Stowmarket: Why didn’t they listen? Parents seek legal advice after claiming medics missed Harry’s heart condition
ANGRY parents are today seeking legal advice after claiming medics failed to spot that their new-born baby’s weight loss was the result of a life-threatening heart condition.
Peter Green and Hayley Clarke said they repeatedly raised concerns over little Harry’s inability to put on weight but were told by health visitors and a GP not to worry.
It was only when the tot was around two months old that he was referred to Ipswich Hospital where doctors recognised the severity of Harry’s condition.
Within 24 hours, Harry underwent a three-and-a-half hour heart operation at the Evelina Hospital in London, where specialists reversed the defect which had caused a narrowing of Harry’s aorta.
Furious Mr Green, 52, contacted The Star after reading the plight of 22-month-old Harry Robb, who was rushed to the same hospital after medics diagnosed his life-threatening condition as tonsillitis.
Mr Green said he has lodged formal complaints with Suffolk County Council, which is responsible for health visitors, and Stowhealth, the GP practice where Harry was assessed.
The couple noticed Harry was struggling to feed and was not putting weight on soon after he was born on November 13 last year.
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At weekly weigh-ins with health visitors, the couple repeated their concerns – but they say they were told their son was fine.
“I am his mum, I felt there was something wrong but no one would listen to me,” said Miss Clarke, 33.
“Whenever we queried anything we got the same response from the health visitors, ‘don’t worry, he will put on weight’ – but he never did.”
When he was around seven weeks old, Harry weighed 7lbs 9oz – still shy of his birth weight of 7lbs 12oz, which he should have reached at two weeks old.
It was only following a regular weigh-in at two months old, health visitor Kate Dewsbury contacted the couple urging them to take Harry to their GP immediately.
Mr Green said the GP who saw them told them he could refer Harry to the hospital for peace of mind for general assessment.
Mr Green added: “So we left there reassured and just waited to see when we could get an appointment.”
Days later health visitor Ms Dewsbury visited Harry at home.
“She immediately asked me if I could drive,” said Miss Clarke. “She said Harry needed to be taken to the hospital straight away.
“It was such a shock – all of a sudden it seemed there was something really wrong.”
At the hospital appointment on January 5, the couple were given the news their son had a serious heart condition. Mr Green said their “world fell apart”.
Doctors arranged for Harry to be transferred to the Evelina Hospital where he was operated on the following day.
“No words can sum up our feelings at being told that,” added Mr Green, a mortgage broker.
“When the specialist team from the Evelina came to intensive care to collect Harry they told us they were amazed he was still alive. They said we were lucky he hadn’t collapsed by that stage.”
Medics at the Evelina Hospital diagnosed Harry with a condition called coarctation.
“Harry’s heart function had been deteriorating since birth and his little heart had been having to work extra hard just to try and pump blood round his body.
“It had affected his liver and lungs and left the left side of his heart really swollen,” said Mr Green
On January 6 Harry underwent a three-and-a-half hour operation, 80 minutes of which he was put on heart bypass.
After two weeks at the hospital, in intensive care and on the cardiac ward, Harry was transferred back to Ipswich Hospital before he was allowed home.
“Those weeks were the worst of our lives, worrying and waiting,” said Mr Green.
Miss Clarke added: “I am so angry. Luckily Harry is doing really well now. If it weren’t for Kate (Dewsbury) and the doctors at Ipswich Hospital, I don’t think he would be here with us today. They were fantastic.”
A Suffolk County Council spokeswoman said: “We work extremely hard to make sure that all the necessary steps are in place to support young people and their families to be healthy and happy.
“Where it is highlighted that this may not be the case we take the steps required to ensure we learn and improve the service we offer.
“Suffolk’s Health Visitors provide a vital service to all families and young children across the county with the primary focus of ensuring parents are supported and children are well cared for.”
Dr Baber Yusaf, senior partner StowHealth said: “We sympathise with the family at this difficult time. Our professional duty of confidentiality relating to the care of our patients means I cannot comment on this case. The whole team at StowHealth always strive to do the best we can.”
n Have you been through a similar ordeal? Write to health reporter Lizzie Parry at the Ipswich Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org