Ipswich: How could medics not spot our Harry’s heart condition?

FURIOUS parents today demanded answers after medics initially diagnosed their 22-month-old son’s life-threatening heart condition as tonsillitis.

Tiny Harry Robb was taken to the minor injuries unit (MIU) Riverside Clinic on June 3 after he developed severe breathing problems.

But the toddler was sent home with penicillin after doctors incorrectly identified his condition.

Today, Harry is fighting for his life at a specialist hospital in London after he was diagnosed with dilated cardiomyopathy – a condition which could mean the youngster will need a heart transplant.

“He was critically ill and they (Riverside) sent us away telling us he had tonsillitis,” said dad Sean Robb.

“He was unresponsive and sick at the clinic and he had terrible breathing problems.

“We are so angry and disappointed we put our trust in the system, we should have just gone straight to A&E.”

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Mr Robb said he and wife Lisa initially called the out-of-hours service, run by Harmoni, and were told to take him into the unit.

He was sent home – but his condition worsened.

“Throughout the day he just got worse,” said Mr Robb.

“His breathing started getting worse and so we called Riverside back and they told us they don’t come out for children so we called an ambulance.

“After two days at Ipswich Hospital he got much worse and doctors referred him to the Evelina Hospital in London.”

There medics told his anxious parents, of Celestion Drive, off Foxhall Road in Ipswich, that their son’s heart was failing, operating at just 17 per cent of its normal function.

“They [doctors] could not believe Harry had been diagnosed with tonsillitis,” added Mr Robb. “His heart had to be restarted when he was in intensive care at Ipswich Hospital.”

After showing signs of improvement Harry was transferred back to the Heath Road hospital on June 16.

“I was absolutely disgusted. When he came back to Ipswich they put him in a bay with 12 other kids. He was supposed to be in isolation because he had been transferred from another hospital.

“Three days later, he had got much worse but the whole day only one nurse came to check on him. My wife and I kept asking if a doctor was coming to see him but they never did.

“By 5am the next morning he was so poorly they decided to do ECGs and put him back on a ventilator before transferring him back to London.

“His heart function when he got back to the Evelina was only 7pc. He was in a critical condition and we were told he might not survive.”

Now his parents face a long wait.

Doctors have said he could require an eight-hour operation to fit a Berlin Heart – an artificial heart which is used to help bridge the time gap until a suitable heart is found for transplant.

“At the moment, he is stable,” said Mr Robb, who works for cleaning contractors ISS at Ipswich Hospital, who he thanked for their support.

“He has improved a bit but we just have to wait and see if his heart function improves.

“It is devastating.”


Angry at the treatment his family received at the minor injuries unit, Sean Robb has filed an official complaint.

A spokesperson for Harmoni, which operated the out-of-hours service at the time, said: “Our aim is to always deliver a first class service to patients. Any complaint is taken seriously and thoroughly investigated.

“When this investigation is complete we will contact Mr and Mrs Robb with our findings. It would not be appropriate for us to comment further in public on an individual patient’s circumstances but our best wishes go to the family at what must be a distressing time for them.”

Meanwhile a spokeswoman for Ipswich Hospital added “We are sorry to hear that Harry’s family don’t feel the care he received here at Ipswich Hospital was appropriate.

“We would like the family to contact us in order that we can meet and discuss this with them.”

n The minor injuries unit has since closed at the Riverside Clinic and is now located at Ipswich Hospital.

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