THE family of Cheshire toddler Olly Stopforth, who died less than 48 hours after being discharged from the Countess of Chester Hospital, have said their 'beautiful boy' was 'failed by all doctors at all levels'.

Olly was just 15 months old when he died in March 2020, having been treated with Calpol, Ibuprofen and his parents handed Difflam throat spray for a viral infection.

He sadly died at his Bellemonte Road home in Frodsham early on March 23, found by his mum Laura Stopforth. A post-mortem examination found he had invasive group A strep, with a secondary cause of a viral respiratory tract infection.

The three-day inquest at the Cheshire Coroner's Court in Warrington, before coroner Jacqueline Devonish, heard evidence from Olly's mum, father Karl Stopforth, Countess staff and independent medical experts, with hospital staff admitting more should have been done to treat the toddler for signs of sepsis, where blood tests and administration of antibiotics would likely have saved Olly's life.

As part of a lengthy narrative conclusion, the jury said: "Whilst it is accepted that Covid 19 was amending the way things were done, the overall level of care that Olly received [at the Countess] was inadequate and had tests been undertaken to identify a bacterial infection, Olly's survival would have been highly likely."

Northwich Guardian: A statement on behalf of Olly Stopforth's parents, Laura and Karl Stopforth, is read outside the coroner's courtA statement on behalf of Olly Stopforth's parents, Laura and Karl Stopforth, is read outside the coroner's court (Image: Newsquest)

In a statement read by medical negligence solicitor Diane Rostron, on behalf of Karl and Laura Stopforth outside Cheshire Coroner's Court following the conclusion of the inquest, they said: "When Olly arrived at hospital, he was a very sick baby.

"He was not properly assessed, he was not given basic medical attention, he was not prioritised or regarded as important; he was not kept safe. Senior doctors could not see what was staring them in the face – scarlet fever.

"He was failed by all doctors at all levels.

"Olly's parents are grateful to the coroner for her opinion, expressed clearly in court, that Olly was grossly neglected. They are grateful to the jury for finding that the overall level of care from Olly's admission to his discharge was inadequate, and that with appropriate care, Olly's chance of survival was highly likely.

"Olly's parents wish to thank the jurors and the coroner for recognising that Olly deserved better – so much better than he received, and that his precious life mattered.

"They are forever heartbroken at the loss of their beautiful boy."


Olly Stopforth.

Olly Stopforth.


Ms Rostron added: “Hearing from the professionals involved in Olly’s care that more should have been done to properly diagnose what was causing his illness, and that providing antibiotics would have resulted in a full recovery, has been incredibly painful and difficult for Laura and Karl.

“We heard from a number of professionals involved in Olly’s care at the Countess of Chester Hospital that the unit was busy that day. Laura and Karl felt that Olly was not considered as a priority when he was in hospital. They have been very upset to hear that the medical staff trusted with their little boy’s care did not provide him with adequate medical attention.

“The seriousness of Olly’s condition was recognised by the paramedic who properly alerted her colleagues in advance. Tragically, the care provided to him when he got to the hospital fell well below acceptable standards and they failed to provide the care Olly so badly needed.

“Knowing that Olly should still be here today is something that his family have no choice but to accept. No parent should lose their young child as they have, it is especially painful because they lost their beautiful boy in preventable circumstances.

“Olly leaves behind an older brother who still misses him desperately. We have been instructed to pursue a medical negligence claim against the trust.”

Dr Nigel Scawn, medical director at the Countess of Chester Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, said: “On behalf of the Trust I would like to extend my sincere condolences to Olly’s family. We appreciate that any inquest is incredibly difficult for the loved ones involved.

“More investigations should have been done while Olly was in our care to fully diagnose and treat the underlying cause of his illness. The Trust has considered this in detail, and lessons have already been learned as a result.

“We have further embedded Local and National Guidelines in our work to help staff better identify and treat sepsis, including how to recognise when to administer antibiotics if sepsis is suspected.”

Dr Michael McGuigan gave evidence to the inquest in the absence of the jury on Tuesday, where he confirmed a sepsis screening tool had been implemented from April 2020, while paediatric early warning charts had been updated so a child who displayed the sort of symptoms Olly had would receive blood tests and antibiotics.

In addition, doctors' and nurses' notes were now on the same electronic system, compared to at the time when doctors' notes were handwritten and nursing notes were on a computer.

The importance of checking if a rash had a 'sandpapery texture', as Olly had upon his admission to the hospital, as a symptom of scarlet fever, had also been communicated to paediatric teams, while patients such as Olly who are discharged would have their family receive a follow-up telephone call from the hospital.