Ellie-May Clark
Ellie-May Clark

Dying five-year-old turned away from GP for being late

FIVE-year-old Ellie-May Clark was struggling to breathe with asthma but the GP refused to see her as she was 5 minutes late.

A five-year-old girl, struggling with asthma, died after she was turned away from an emergency doctor's appointment because she was late, an inquest has heard.

Ellie-May Clark arrived at The Grange Clinic in Newport, South Wales, five minutes after her emergency appointment at 5pm on January 25 in 2015.
 

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Her mother had taken her to see Dr Joanne Rowe, a partner in the surgery as Ellie was wheezing and unable to walk due to her asthma.

Ellie-May and her mother, Shanice Clark, waited in line to see receptionist Ann Jones and reached the front of the queue between 5.10 and 5.18pm.

The inquest heard that Dr Rowe enforces a '10-minute rule', so she would not see patients who arrived more than 10 minutes after their appointment slot.

Ellie-May was turned away in line with this rule.

The little girl turned to her mother and asked "why won't the doctor see me?" before they returned home and Ellie-May was put to bed at about 8pm.

She died shortly after.

At around 10.30pm Miss Clark heard her daughter coughing and she found her with her hands and face blue. She called an ambulance but tragically Ellie-May died shortly after arriving at the Royal Gwent Hospital.

An inquest into Ellie-May's death at Newport Coroner's Court heard Dr Rowe had previously received a letter from a consultant stating that the little girl was at risk of having "an episode of severe/life threatening asthma".

Rob Sowersby, representing Ellie-May's family, told the inquest Dr Rowe made a clinical decision "without any clinical information whatsoever".

"She sent away a five-year-old patient from an emergency appointment without even opening her records," Mr Sowersby said.

"Dr Rowe agreed that when she opened the letter from the hospital, stating that Ellie-May was at risk of serious/life threatening asthma, she should have recorded that prominently on Ellie-May's clinical record."

The court heard that Dr Rowe did not ask the reason behind Ellie-May's emergency appointment, or look into her medical notes before refusing to see her.

The doctor was asked why Dr Rowe did not ask another doctor to see Ellie-May.

Dr Rowe replied "I don't know. I was busy seeing to the other patient that I had with me."

"If you have 25 patients to see in a morning or afternoon and a lot of people are 15 minutes late or 20 minutes late you are never going to be able to manage your work," she said when asked about the 10 minute rule," Dr Rowe added.

She said she would have acted differently if she had read Ellie-May's notes.

News Corp Australia

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