Two victims of Manchester Arena bomb including Saffie, 8, 'could have been saved' as emergency services slammed

3 November 2022, 14:38 | Updated: 3 November 2022, 17:35

Saffie-Rose Roussos and John Atkinson were victims of the Manchester Arena Bombingd
Saffie-Rose Roussos and John Atkinson were victims of the Manchester Arena Bombingd. Picture: PA/Alamy
Fran Way

By Fran Way

Emergency services are 'truly sorry' over failings highlighted in the latest Manchester Arena bombings inquiry which revealed there is a ‘possibility’ that the youngest victim in the 2017 attacks could have been saved, a damning report has revealed today.

Little Saffie-Rose Roussos was eight-years-old when she was killed in the terror attack at an Ariana Grande concert on May 22, 2017.

The concert was over by 10.30pm and members of the 14,500-strong audience had started making their way out via the city room.

Just one minute later, Salman Abedi walked towards the crowd near the exit doors and detonated his deadly device – with intentions to kill and injure as many people as possible.

In total, 22 people died and hundreds were left injured and traumatised.

The 22 Manchester Arena bombing victims
The 22 Manchester Arena bombing victims. Picture: police/family

The second part of the public inquiry had today revealed that Saffie and 28-year-old John Atkinson could have survived if the response by emergency services to the explosion had been better.

Saffie Rose Roussos
Saffie Rose Roussos. Picture: Family / Inquiry
John Atkinson
John Atkinson. Picture: Family handout/inquiry

Chairman Sir John Saunders started the public inquiry into the bombings in 2019. His findings have been divided into a three-part report.

The first report looked into the security for the arena, the second part – published today – looked into the emergency service report and the third will look into whether it could have been prevented.

Abedi was known to security services and the inquiry will also look at his background and radicalisation.

The bomber’s brother, Hashem Abedi, was jailed for life in August 2020 for his part in the attacks – which he admitted.

Court artist sketch by Elizabeth Cook of Hashem Abedi
Court artist sketch by Elizabeth Cook of Hashem Abedi. Picture: Alamy

In today’s publication Mr Saunders concluded that there was ‘only a remote possibility that [Saffie] could have survived with different treatment and care.

“On the evidence that I have accepted, what happened to Saffie-Rose Roussos represents a terrible burden of injury,

“It is highly likely that her death was inevitable even if the most comprehensive and advanced medical treatment had ben initiated immediately after injury.”

Speaking after the publication, Nicola Brook – a solicitor at Broudie Jackson Canter – who speaks for five Manchester Arena victims’ families, including the family of Saffie, said: “This damning report reveals what the families knew all along, that all the organisations meant to protect their loved ones failed on an enormous and unfathomable scale.

Manchester Arena attacks vigils
Manchester Arena attacks vigils. Picture: Getty

"To compound the families' pain, they were then forced to listen to denials, excuses and finger-pointing rather than admissions of the terrible mistakes made.

“Saffie's parents Andrew and Lisa have pushed to get answers about what happened to their beautiful daughter over five and a half incredibly traumatic years.

"After initially believing the blast had killed Saffie instantly, the pain of that loss was compounded by learning that she had lived for over an hour."

The scathing report also confirmed that John Atkinson, a 28-year-old healthcare worker, could have been saved. He said that Mr Atkinson’s injuries were ‘survivable’ but that he didn’t receive the ‘treatment and care’ that he should have.

Following the publication, his family said: “It is now clear beyond any doubt that on the night of the bombing John was totally failed at every stage, both by the private medical providers at the Arena, ETUK and the emergency services.

“As the report says, timely medical treatment to stop or slow John's catastrophic bleeding and get him to hospital would have saved him.

"He was left, dying, without his dignity, on the floor when it should have been obvious to medics that he needed to get straight to hospital.

"As we know from witnesses, John kept asking if he was going to die. John must have known that he was dying and the pain that causes us is too great to put into words. This should simply never have been allowed to happen.

"The apology from North West Ambulance Service means nothing unless they act rapidly on this report to ensure that no family ever has to go through this horrific experience again.”

Mr Saunders delivered a statement at the Manchester Hall after his report was published at 2.30pm today.

Victims and families were given the report before it had been published and outside of the hall a minute’s silence was observed by the public and media.

He said: “I believe that I have reached the correct conclusions about what went wrong.

“I have had the assistance of many very clever and hardworking people to all of whom I am grateful.

“I also hope that this inquiry will make a difference and that things that went wrong on May 22 will never be repeated.

“This is a hope which is shared by the Home Secretary, and I hope we can work together to achieve that aim.

“I am confident that all of the rescue services are also determined that this should never happen.”

In a press conference this evening, Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham said emergency services ‘failed so badly’ in their response to the Manchester Arena bombing because "at the time they had poor leadership, a poor internal culture and an inability to collaborate property.”

Statements from Greater Manchester Police, British Transport Police, Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue service and North West Ambulance Service were also made.

Chief Fire Officer for Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue service, Dave Russel, said: “I want to start by wholeheartedly apologising. “Our response that night was wholly inadequate and totally ineffective and that will forever be a matter of deep regret for our service.

“We let families and the public down in their hour of need for that I am truly sorry.

“I want them to know that I fully accept the inquiry’s criticisms of our service and accept the recommendations in full.”