'We believe Ryleigh should still be here today, but she wasn't given a chance'

Ryleigh Hillcoat-Bee
-Credit: (Image: Family photo)

The parents of a little girl who died after doctors "missed opportunities" to diagnose a rare condition have vowed to sue the hospital where she was treated.

Ryleigh Hillcoat-Bee was admitted to hospital in August 2021 after she became floppy and lethargic following a family trip to North Wales. Doctors discovered that Ryleigh had elevated levels of potassium in her blood as well as a high heartrate and breathing rate.

Tests revealed that three-year-old Ryleigh had "extraordinarily high" levels of Creatine Kinase, which can indicate a muscle injury or disease but doctors allowed Ryleigh to go home with her parents on August 13 with a follow-up planned for six to eight weeks.


Three months later, and still waiting for follow-up tests, Ryleigh's parents Caroline and Andrew took her back to A&E after they became concerned about her breathing. After arriving at hospital Ryleigh's condition rapidly deteriorated and, after suffering a cardiac arrest, she died on Monday November 8.

Following an inquest held last week at Blackpool Coroner's Court Area Coroner Alan Wilson ruled that there had been several "missed opportunities" to scrutinise Ryleigh’s lack of mobility before discharging her in the August. He noted that this could have led to more awareness that her deteriorating physical state could be associated with a neuromuscular problem.

Representing Ryleigh’s parents Diane Rostron, medical negligence solicitor, said: “The hospital was given clear advice from colleagues in Leeds during Ryleigh’s admission in August 2021 to seek specialist advice from a neuromuscular specialist.

“Had they done so, identifying rhabdomyolysis, and advice on how to treat a flare up, would have followed. The hospital would and should have then provided this information to Ryleigh’s parents while the root cause of Ryleigh’s condition was being investigated.

“Ryleigh died on 8th November 2021 just three months after being discharged at the very hospital where she was born a little over three years earlier. Instead of being advised that Ryleigh was suffering from rhabdomyolysis and providing her parents with guidance on how to manage this safely, my clients were instead told that Ryleigh would recover as quickly as she became unwell.

“We believe that Ryleigh’s death could have been prevented and have been instructed to pursue a medical negligence claim.”

Ryleigh Hillcoat-Bee with her parents Andrew and Caroline
Ryleigh Hillcoat-Bee with her parents Andrew and Caroline -Credit:Family photo

Ryleigh’s parents Andrew Hillcoat and Caroline Bee said: “We are very upset at the loss of our little girl. We had to fight for a full inquest into her death and it has been a long and traumatising journey.

"We are devastated about the coroner’s finding despite robust evidence that Ryleigh’s rhabdomyolysis flare up in August 2021 could and should have been effectively managed.

“We believe that Ryleigh should still be here today, but she was not given any chance of survival.”

Chris Barben, Executive Medical Director at Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: "I would first of all like to offer sincere condolences to Ryleigh’s family and everyone touched by her life personally and on behalf of everyone at the Trust.

"While we know this cannot bring Ryleigh back, we will be carefully considering the Coroner's findings around the way the Trust conducted itself during this tragic incident to ensure that we learn everything we can from what happened and work to prevent anything like it happening again."