The father of a premature baby whose body was accidentally thrown into a hospital laundry bin and put through a boil wash, today launched an attack on the care his girlfriend received from the health service.
Patrick Kelly, 36, rejected an apology from Queen Mary's Hospital in Sidcup, Kent, after the body of tiny James Kelly Fernandez went missing from the hospital mortuary and was later found in a laundry 13 miles away.
His Spanish girlfriend Amaia Fernandez, 25, who gave birth to their 1lb 1oz son 17 weeks early, had returned to her home country to get medical care, Mr Kelly told GMTV.
"She is traumatised, she has lost her son, she's gone to Spain – for two reasons, one, to see her family and to try to get over all this, and two, to get medical attention in Spain because basically it is lot quicker for her to be checked out.
"She just feels that she had to go home, she needed to recuperate. She just lost confidence in this country.
"She has come to this country to be with me and she has put her life in their hands and they have fumbled the whole thing from the beginning to the end.
"The whole pregnancy has been a nightmare. There is a catalogue of events that were wrong."
Mr Kelly revealed how James had died shortly after birth in spite of a battle by
medical staff to save his son's life.
The couple had found out that his body was missing four days before the funeral was due to take place after undertakers went to the hospital to pick him up.
He said if the funeral had taken place eight weeks or 12 weeks later then they might not have found James' body and he would have been buried without them.
He said it appeared that someone had taken James's body from a fridge to check as they needed to collect another baby's body. They had left James on the floor.
"We think they actually picked up the female body and rushed or walked or took the body to the undertakers and left our son there on the floor, where obviously cloths and things were thrown in on top of him," he said.
"Somebody had come along and picked up all the laundry and just I imagine thrown it into the laundry basket."
Mr Kelly said a statement issued by the hospital following an internal inquiry
was "too little too late".
"There are all these tragedies, all these things you see in the paper how people have suffered at the hands of the NHS," he said.
"There is always a spin, always someone to stick up and say this should have happened or that should have happened, we have made a mistake, we are looking into it, we are going to change things.
"But why do they have to be changed after the event? Why can't people see these things before the event? It is just common sense."
Ms Fernandez was 23 weeks into a pregnancy complicated by the blood disease toxoplasmosis when James was born on November 17 at 5.17am, according to The Sun newspaper.
He died an hour later in his parents' arms.
A hospital spokesperson said last night: "A baby who was delivered at Queen Mary's Hospital died of natural causes an hour after birth.
"Due to a tragic mistake, the body of the baby was somehow transferred to a linen basket in the hospital mortuary and taken to an external laundry where the body was later discovered.
"A full internal inquiry was instigated immediately the incident was discovered to understand how this tragic event occurred.
"The trust has learnt from the investigation and has already implemented changes in work practices to ensure that this dreadful mistake can never happen again.
"Queen Mary's offers not only its sincere condolences but also apologises unreservedly for the events that took place and the distress we have caused following the death of their son. We have privately expressed our apologies to the parents."
A search was launched after undertakers arrived at the hospital to collect James' body on December 13.
He was found the following morning on a conveyor belt at the industrial cleaning firm Sunlight Healthcare Services, 13 miles away in Brixton, south London.
Mr Kelly was told by police that his son's body had been through a boil wash.
James' funeral was eventually held on January 3, in Lewisham, south–east London.
Martin Roberts, human resources director of Sunlight Services Group Ltd, which runs the Brixton laundry, said James's body had been found on a conveyor belt by an employee.
"Anyone who discovered something like that would be moved by it, wouldn't they?" he said. "We counselled that employee and he carried on working."
He said the laundry was designated to health care. It was not normal to sort through laundry before washes because of the "foul" nature of some of the linen coming in.
"Obviously, it is regrettable from Sunlight's point of view," he said.
"I know that the hospital has offered its apologies. We discovered the body and we notified the police immediately."Reuse content