London

Great Ormond Street Hospital doctors want Baby Peter inquiry

Peter Connelly
Image caption Peter Connelly died in August 2007 at the age of 17 months after being subjected to sustained abuse

Doctors have demanded a government investigation into why London's Great Ormond Street Hospital kept information from the original Baby Peter inquiry.

They have backed a similar call from Home Office minister and Lib Dem MP Lynne Featherstone, who wants the hospital's chief executive to quit.

The hospital failed to share findings of a highly critical report into St Ann's Clinic in Haringey.

Abused toddler Peter Connolly was treated there two days before he died.

During a serious case review into Peter Connelly's death in August 2007, Great Ormond Street commissioned an independent investigation by two of the country's most experienced paediatricians, Professor Jo Sibert and Dr Deborah Hodes.

But it produced an edited version of their report and passed that - not the original - to the review.

Now a number of unidentified consultants have written to the medical journal The Lancet calling for "strong ministerial intervention" to establish what happened.

They say that because the trust board has denied allegations so strongly, "it is now impossible to raise such questions internally".

Image caption Great Ormond Street Hospital should not be seen to bury its mistakes, the doctors wrote in the letter

The letter adds: "Hence our need to ask publicly: If there is nothing to hide, no wrongdoing, why not commission an independent investigation to make the executive's innocence indisputable?"

They did not want the hospital "to be seen as an organisation that buries its mistakes", they added.

"In addition we are alarmed about the way in which senior management has treated individuals who have voiced concerns, not just in the case of Baby P, but also in relation to other clinical risks within the Trust.

"We urge that there is strong ministerial intervention to order an investigation into these matters, including the treatment of whistleblowers."

The edited version of the report omitted key findings and damning criticisms including:

  • The head of the clinic, Dr Sukanta Bannerjee, claimed the case was a "clinically risky situation"
  • Child protection arrangements caused "grave concern"
  • The doctor who examined Peter two days before his death, Dr Sabah Al-Zayyat, was under-qualified, and should not have been appointed by Great Ormond Street because she had "little experience and training in child protection"

Recommendations for the urgent appointment of consultants to key child protection posts were also withheld from the review.

Ms Featherstone has accused the hospital of a cover-up and called on the health secretary to launch an inquiry.

Great Ormond Street Hospital has rejected the allegations, saying it had "no reason to believe that any of its staff, with the approval or without the approval of management, sought to mislead the serious case review or otherwise hide deficiencies in the service".

In a letter to The Lancet, medical directors Barbara Buckley and Martin Elliott say Ms Featherstone's claims are "incorrect and unsubstantiated."

They write: "We know that a great many of our staff - doctors, nurses, and others - are incredibly angry at the way the reputation of the hospital and its chief executive, Jane Collins, have been called into question."

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