Family of Sunderland baby who died after contracting chickenpox and sepsis awarded payout by hospital chiefs

The parents of a baby boy who contracted sepsis after earlier getting chickenpox have been awarded a payout by Sunderland Royal Hospital chiefs after he died hours after being admitted for treatment.

Wednesday, 12th September 2018, 2:00 pm
Updated Wednesday, 12th September 2018, 2:02 pm
Layton Boys-Hope, who contracted Chickenpox which led to sepsis and he died in February 2015, aged 13 months.

Layton Boys-Hope was taken to the Royal by his worried parents Dave and Nicol after he became breathless and feverish in February 2015.

He had been making a good recovery from a bout of chicken pox when he suddenly became ill at home.

Layton Boys-Hope, who contracted Chickenpox which led to sepsis and he died in February 2015, aged 13 months.

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Layton was admitted with a temperature of 39.9°C, and his left foot ‘purple’ in colour.

Having been admitted at 3.13pm, Layton was then reviewed by a doctor at 3.45pm, at which time an enlargement of his liver was recorded and the possibility of a bacterial infection noted.

However, despite this, City Hospitals Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust admitted no further observations were then made to assess Layton’s condition over the following six hours.

Doctors had noted the discolouration in Layton’s foot but were not in agreement over its cause.

Dave Hope and his partner Nichol's son, Layton Boys-Hope, contracted Chickenpox which led to sepsis and he died in February 2015, aged 13 months.

It was dismissed as having been caused by either his nappy being too tight or having slept on his leg.

Layton was given Calpol to reduce his temperature while investigations were carried out, but blood tests were not assessed until three and a half hours after his admission, when a low white blood cell count was discovered.

Solicitors who led a legal case against the hospital Trust on behalf of Layton’s parents said these results should have triggered an immediate decision to administer antibiotics to help fight infection.

However, doctors instead decided to carry out further tests, including an x-ray and tests for liver function.

Sunderland Royal Hospital.

Layton was admitted to a ward at 9pm and given antibiotics at 11.25pm – more than eight hours after he was first seen.

However, by this stage his condition had rapidly declined, his oxygen levels dropped and his heartbeat had almost come to a stop.

He was transferred to theatre but died after 30 minutes of CPR.

As part of legal action against the trust through Hudgell Solicitors, it was alleged that had antibiotics been given at any time before 6.45pm (up to three and a half hours after admission), Layton would have survived.

Layton’s cause of death was recorded as overwhelming sepsis, caused by chicken pox.

His devastated parents Dave and Nichol have now agreed a damages settlement with the hospital trust following their legal case.

The trust recognised and admitted that had antibiotics been given earlier, it could have affected Layton’s outcome however, it was denied that the timing of the antibiotics represented substandard care.

The trust denied overall liability for Layton’s death.

Trust bosses have expressed their condolences to Layton’s family and added that there is now a “dedicated Sepsis lead” working with teams at the organisation.

Dave and Nichol, who have six other children, say they now want others to be aware of how serious sepsis can be.

Dave, 38, an optical lab technician, said: “If things had been different, Layton would still be here and that’s the hardest part of it all.

“No parent should have to go through that and deal with that.

“We thought he was in the best place but, in my eyes, they didn’t do everything they should have done.

“We can’t ever accept that.”

Dave and Nichol set up an online fundraising page called Layton’s Legacy in memory of their son to raise funds and awareness for The UK Sepsis Trust.

“We didn’t have a clue about sepsis, or what the symptoms were,” said Dave.

“From something so simple as chicken pox to then lead to this – it’s something we never imagined could ever happen.

“It is so important to raise awareness.

“It’s heart-breaking.”

Dave said he will never forget the devastating hours leading up to his son’s death.

“They worked on him for about 30 minutes before they made the decision to stop and they asked us if we wanted to be there.

“They had stopped all the machines, so we weren’t faced with beeping noises and they declared he had passed away just before 1am.

“It was horrible.

“I remember being in the theatre when they stopped working on him and my legs went from under me.

“I fell on the floor crying uncontrollably.

“I couldn’t take in what had just happened.

“I wanted the ground to swallow us up and I wanted them to replace Layton with me.”

Ian Martin, medical director at City Hospitals Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust, said: “On behalf of the trust, I express our deepest condolences to Layton’s family for the tragic loss of their son and brother in 2015.

“Over the past three years, the NHS nationally and locally has placed a major focus on ‎increasing awareness of sepsis to support healthcare professionals in recognising and treating symptoms of this ‘silent killer’.

“Ensuring timely identification and treatment of sepsis is one of our key quality improvement priorities ‎and we now have a dedicated Sepsis lead working with teams across the trust to provide regular training and support for staff around spotting the signs and symptoms of potential sepsis cases early and acting quickly to provide prompt treatment.

“Sepsis is a serious complication of an infection and a leading cause of death across the UK‎.

“It is extremely difficult to recognise and diagnose and working together with the UK Sepsis Trust, the NHS is now making great strides to raise awareness amongst all staff groups to help potentially save more lives in future.”

For more information about Layton’s Legacy online fundraising page, visit


A child may have sepsis if he or she:

1. Is breathing very fast

2. Has a ‘fit’ or convulsion

3. Looks mottled, bluish, or pale

4. Has a rash that does not fade when you press it

5. Is very lethargic or difficult to wake

6. Feels abnormally cold to touch

A child under 5 may have sepsis if he or she:

1. Is not feeding

2. Is vomiting repeatedly

3. Has not passed urine for 12 hours