The families of two new mothers who died with herpes after having C-sections carried out by the same surgeon have hit out at the ‘disgraceful behaviour’ of the NHS trust as they continue their five-year ‘fight for answers’.
Kimberly Sampson, 29, and Samantha Mulcahy, 32, both died with herpes in 2018 shortly after giving birth after the same obstetrician conducting their Caesarean sections.
They died six weeks apart in hospitals run by East Kent Hospitals University NHS Trust (EKHUT) prompting an inquest into their deaths looking at how the mothers came to be infected with the virus, and their subsequent care.
Today at the inquest in Maidstone, coroner Catherine Wood said it was ‘unlikely’ that the surgeon was the cause of the herpes infection in both women and ruled out any culpability of any medical staff involved.
She did, however, say ‘suspicion should have been raised’ with Ms Mulcahy’s case as staff would have already been aware of Ms Sampson’s earlier death and added that antiviral treatment should have been given sooner to both women.
First-time mother Samantha Mulcahy, 32, (pictured with her husband Ryan) died at the William Harvey Hospital in Ashford, Kent
Kimberly Sampson, 29, died at the Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother Hospital in Margate in May 2018 and died at the end of the month in a London hospital after giving birth to her second child
Speaking after today’s hearing Ms Mulcahy’s heartbroken mother Nicola Foster and her stepfather Mark Trainer slammed the coroner’s summing up as being incorrect
Speaking after the hearing, Ms Mulcahy’s heartbroken mother Nicola Foster and her stepfather Mark Trainer slammed the coroner’s summing up as being incorrect and said they will not give up on their five-year quest for the truth.
She said: ‘It’s become very apparent during this inquest we were never going to get to the truth of why the trust covered up and shut us out at every opportunity.
‘They have tried to punish us for having help from the BBC… The trust has been untruthful, dismissive and members of trust staff including surgeon doctors have behaved arrogantly, defensively as if they are untouchable.’
‘Both families will always believe the death of Kim and Sam were because of something they acquired once in hospital and we have no reason to believe otherwise,’ the grieving mother added.
Ms Foster referred to an expert witness called by the coroner and said she thought the coroner’s decision had been ‘based solely on her witness and some of the summing up was incorrect.’
She said she will continue to fight over the inquest’s conclusion, adding that the family ‘can’t give up yet’ as they ‘don’t feel we’ve got to the real truth’.
Ms Sampson died at the Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother Hospital in Margate in May 2018 and died at the end of the month in a London hospital after giving birth to her second child. Less than two months later, first-time mother Ms Mulcahy died at the William Harvey Hospital in Ashford, Kent.
The coroner said: ‘This is a rare but often fatal disease and more needs to be done to raise awareness of it.
Parents of Ms Sampson, Yvette and Louis Sampson, also spoke following the inquest saying they will ‘always be angry and upset’ over what they’ve had to do to get to the truth
The two women died six weeks apart in hospitals run by East Kent Hospitals University NHS Trust. Pictured: Ms Mulcahy on her wedding day
Today at the inquest in Maidstone the coroner said it was ‘unlikely’ that the surgeon was the cause of the herpes infection in both women. Pictured: Ms Sampson
‘All of the evidence suggests early recognition is more likely to raise a positive outcome.’
The inquest previously heard in April how the surgeon, who cannot be named for legal reasons, could have been a potential source of the infection. But the surgeon told the inquest his hands were fully scrubbed, double gloved and he was wearing a mask during procedures.
He also said he had no lesions and was not infected but added that he had not been tested.
The coroner said those involved who suggested it was the surgeon were trying to ‘plug the gap’ with a possible explanation but she ruled it was unlikely and that ‘statistical coincidences can occur’.
During today’s hearing, a legal challenge from the BBC and PA news agency was also implemented to life the anonymity order applied for by the trust to stop the surgeon being named.
EKHUT argued its anonymity order was to protect the reputation and mental health of its staff member from what it claimed would be damaging media reports of the case, but the media’s bid argued the fears for the surgeon were speculative.
Following today’s conclusions Ms Foster said she still believes there is a link between her daughter’s death and the surgeon due to the way the EKHUT has tried to ‘shut the door in their face’ when they’ve tried to ask questions.
Yvette Sampson, Ms Sampson’s mother, also said the trust had not listened to her and she will ‘always be angry’ over what they had to do to get the truth about her daughter’s death.
EKHUT argued its anonymity order was to protect the reputation and mental health of its staff member from what it claimed would be damaging media reports of the case, but the media’s bid argued the fears for the surgeon were speculative
The coroner is expected to give narrative conclusions for both Ms Sampson and Ms Mulcahy on July 26
She said: ‘The trust didn’t really listen to me; they were more focused on trying to get the issues to go away.
‘The last five years have felt like a real fight for answers.’
Ms Sampson added how the process over the last five years has ‘changed her as a person’ and she finds it ‘hard to comprehend’ how the trust has acted.
Standing alongside Ms Sampson’s father, Louis Sampson, the mother said she will ‘always be angry and upset’ over what they’ve had to do to get to the truth of Ms Sampson’s death.
Anna Vroobel, the family lawyer, also said in a statement that the inquest showed the failing in Ms Sampson’s care by the trust failing to provide her with antivirals.
Urging the trust to learn the lessons of this case, Ms Vroobel said: ‘Patient safety should be a fundamental priority. We continue to see too many families whose lives have been shattered.’
The coroner is expected to give narrative conclusions for both Ms Sampson and Ms Mulcahy on July 26.
Ms Wood also adjourned her decision over the anonymity order until the same hearing.
A spokesperson for East Kent Hospitals said: ‘We would like to express our sincere condolences to the families of Samantha Mulcahy and Kimberley Sampson.
‘We are unable to comment further until the inquest has concluded.’
MailOnline has also contacted East Kent Hospitals.