Hospital bosses apologise to parents of baby who suffered brain damage

Brian Farmer, PA
·3-min read

Hospital bosses have apologised to the parents of a boy who died after suffering brain damage during his birth, and said improvements have since been made to maternity services.

Isaiah Haastrup, who was left severely disabled, died when he was 12 months old, in March 2018, after his parents became embroiled in a High Court life-support treatment fight.

A judge gave doctors permission to provide only palliative care – against the wishes of his father, Lanre Haastrup, and mother, Takesha Thomas.

Specialists treating Isaiah at King’s College Hospital in London had told Mr Justice MacDonald that providing further intensive care treatment was futile and not in his best interests.

Hospital bosses have now admitted liability for “events surrounding the birth” and settled “an action for medical negligence” brought by Mr Haastrup.

A spokeswoman for King’s College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust said on Thursday that an apology has been made.

“We are sincerely sorry for the events surrounding Isaiah’s birth and we have apologised unreservedly to his family,” she said.

“Since Isaiah was born in 2017, a number of improvements have been made in our maternity service, including enhanced mandatory and escalation training, to maximise safe care.”

Isaiah’s parents are currently involved in further litigation relating to their son’s case.

Mr Justice MacDonald, who analysed evidence about Isaiah’s treatment at private hearings in the Family Division of the High Court in London, allowed reporters covering the case to name Isaiah, his parents, and King’s College Hospital.

But he said reports could not include names of staff involved in Isaiah’s care.

Isaiah’s parents, from Peckham, south London, want those restrictions lifted.

Another judge, Sir Andrew McFarlane, is considering their application at a public, virtual hearing in the Family Division of the High Court.

Isaiah Haastrup court case
Isaiah Haastrup’s father, Lanre Haastrup, and mother, Takesha Thomas (Philip Toscano/PA)

Sir Andrew, president of the Family Division of the High Court and the most senior family court judge in England and Wales, has been told that Mr Haastrup made an application after a coroner opened an inquest into Isaiah’s death.

One issue the judge, who is based in London, has been asked to consider is whether hospital staff giving evidence can been named in reports of the inquest.

The parents of another child who was at the centre of a life-support treatment dispute are also involved in the hearing being overseen by Sir Andrew.

Rashid Abbasi and his wife Aliya, who are both doctors, want Sir Andrew to lift reporting restrictions, barring medics involved in the care of their six-year-old daughter Zainab, who died in September 2019.

They say they experienced “appalling treatment” at the hands of some clinicians working for the Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and want to initiate a public debate surrounding care standards and approaches at the paediatric department of the Great North Children’s Hospital in Newcastle.

A barrister representing the two NHS trusts involved has told Sir Andrew that bosses want reporting restrictions because they believe clinicians should be protected from “negative attention from the public and media”.

Gavin Millar QC said treating clinicians involved in life-support treatment cases centred on two other children, Charlie Gard and Alfie Evans, had experienced attention of “that sort” and that applications to discharge reporting restrictions in Isaiah’s case should be dismissed.

Mr Millar told Sir Andrew that Zainab’s parents’ complaints were “disputed and as yet unsubstantiated”.