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Calls for new inquest follow Stafford review.

A fresh inquest has been called for after a review of the circumstances surrounding the death of a three-year-old boy at Stafford Hospital  two years ago.

Jonnie Meek, from Cannock, died while being fed through his stomach in August 2014. The independent review, which also criticised the NHS for having ‘a closed culture’, followed accusations that the hospital had attempted to cover up its failings by forging staff statements.

Jonnie Meek’s parents said their son, who had a rare genetic condition, suffered an allergic reaction to a type of milk that had made him ill on previous occasions. This was denied by a trust investigation, a post-mortem and a coroner’s inquest, which ruled pneumonia as the cause of Jonnie’s death.

Paediatrician Dr Martin Farrier, an associate medical director at Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh Foundation Trust, who carried out the review, said: “I found myself in the same position as Jonnie’s parents. On the outside, unable to find a way in to ask simple questions. Blocked by fear."

Dr Farrier said the parents' explanation was the most likely, but called for a new inquest. He said Mid Staffordshire NHS Trust had offered a "poor" response to Jonnie's family and concluded "there is little evidence of the open culture aspired to by the NHS."

Jonnie, who was born with Grouchy syndrome, died more than two hours after being admitted to hospital to trial a feed directly into his stomach. After his death, his parents pursued their complaint and alleged that statements from health workers who had witnessed his death had been falsified.

They also said the Trust attempted to shift the blame for failings in care, by falsifying the child’s medical history to suggest the boy was sicker than he had been before being admitted.

The independent report criticised the Mid Staffordshire Trust, which was dissolved in November 2014, for failing to consider the parents’ concerns.

Dr Farrier also criticised a second Trust  about difficulties in arranging to interview a nurse who cared for Jonnie before his death and who now works there.

He wrote: “Neither Trust had reason to hide. Both responded in the same closed, unhelpful manner.  Problems of a closed culture within the NHS continue. Expectation of blame leads to defensive behaviour.  NHS organisations should openly cooperate with care reviews.”

The second Trust said it encouraged the nurse to seek guidance from her union and that it would always encourage staff to assist investigations.

Chief officer at Cannock Chase clinical commissioning group, which supervises the services, Andrew Donald, said he accepted the report and would try to help the family secure a new inquest.