The parents of Martha Mills, who died from sepsis days before her 14th birthday, have called out a toxic workplace culture in the NHS for causing her death. Last year an inquest heard that Martha’s death could have been prevented if doctors at King’s College Hospital had moved her to intensive care sooner. Even when raising concerns with the doctors about their daughter’s deteriorating condition and risk of sepsis – particularly before the August bank holiday weekend when there would fewer staff in the hospital – they were told it was a “normal infection”. By the time the doctors acknowledged the seriousness of Martha’s condition, it was too late. Since her death, KCH has admitted mistakes were made and given sepsis training to all clinical staff who treat children. NHS England says parents and families are already able to seek a second opinion and that those wishes should be respected, but Martha’s mother, Merope Mills, says that based on her experience, in practice “that doesn’t always work”. She says her anxiety over her daughter’s condition was used as a reason not to invite critical care specialists to become involved. Martha’s parents are campaigning for the NHS to introduce “Martha’s rule”, under which patients and their families would have the automatic right to seek an urgent second opinion on hospital care should they have concerns, without fear of confrontation. Listen to the full story in the Tortoise app, or wherever you get your podcasts.
Photograph Getty Images