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Police Probe As Baby Found With Dummy Taped To Face At Mid Staffordshire NHS Trust

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NHS TRUST
The baby was four-months old and unharmed in the incident | Alamy

Police have launched a criminal inquiry after a four-month-old baby boy was found with a dummy taped to his face at a scandal-hit hospital.

Staffordshire Police said they were in the early stages of an investigation into the baby's treatment at Stafford Hospital, which is at the centre of a public inquiry into serious failings of care.

The trust which runs the hospital has apologised to the family of the baby, who was not injured in the incident.

The Daily Mail tonight named the baby as Mason Fellows, who had been born 11 weeks premature.

He was taken to the hospital after suffering breathing difficulties, the paper said.

His parents were named as Sarah Fellows and her boyfriend Lee Denning, 39.

Grandmother Diane Denning, 69, from Cannock, Staffs, said: "I am furious. How can a human being do this to an innocent, defenceless baby? To my mind, this is nothing less than torture."

In a statement issued by the Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust, its director of nursing and midwifery, Colin Ovington, said: "We have a zero tolerance approach to poor patient care and we take immediate, appropriate action as soon as we know about any potential serious incidents which happen in our hospitals.

"One of our recent incidents involved a dummy that was found taped on to a baby's face. Fortunately, the baby was unharmed."

Mr Ovington added: "The incident is under investigation by the police and so we are unable to give any more information at the moment.

"A member of staff has been suspended pending the outcome of the police investigation and the trust's investigation under our disciplinary policy.

"We cannot emphasise strongly enough that this incident is exceptional and apologise again to the family. We want other hospitals to learn from this incident so that we can be sure that it does not happen to any other baby."

A spokesman for Staffordshire Police said: "Officers from our Protecting Vulnerable People Department are at the very early stages of investigating a complaint concerning the treatment of a baby boy by a member of staff at Stafford Hospital earlier this month.

"The baby boy, who was four months old at the time, was not harmed as a result.

"We are liaising closely with his family and the NHS trust concerning the matter."

The report from the public inquiry into failings at the trust will be published on February 6.

It is understood the inquiry chairman, Robert Francis QC, will recommend wide-ranging reforms of the NHS.

The £11 million review of what went wrong at Stafford Hospital between January 2005 and March 2009 will suggest hospitals that cover up mistakes by doctors and poor treatment of patients should face fines and possible closure, it has been reported.

A separate highly-critical report by the Healthcare Commission in 2009 revealed a catalogue of failings at the trust and said "appalling standards" had put patients at risk.

Between 400 and 1,200 more people died than would have been expected in a three-year period from 2005 to 2008, the commission said.

In February 2010, an independent inquiry into events at the trust found it had "routinely neglected patients".

A recent report, conducted by a team of independent experts on behalf of regulator Monitor, concluded that Mid Staffs is "financially and clinically unsustainable".

It recently emerged that the trust has paid out more than £1 million in compensation to 120 victims of abuse or their families.

Cure the NHS, which has campaigned for better standards of care at the hospital, said members of the group were distressed to hear of the latest incident.

Cure the NHS member Ken Lownds said: "It demonstrates that the hospital is still not safe. It's just staggering that we are still hearing of such awful cases."