Child Abuse

A new database of children’s hospital visits is to be set up to identify possible child abuse cases. What I would like to know is: will a record be kept of abuse carried out by doctors and nurses?

My concern is not theoretical but based on experience. I had a profoundly brain damaged daughter, Susan. She was the second born of twins. My wife and I were told soon after the birth that she had suffered brain damage cause by the cord being wrapped around her neck. However, our GP at the time wasn’t satisfied with the explanation and we began a judicial review. It turned out that the explanation was a lie; the damage was caused by an injection of a drug to contract my wife’s womb and expel the afterbirth being given by a doctor who did not check her first. Susan was crushed by the sudden contraction. Despite evidence to the contrary, no doctor would agree negligence was a factor. In fact, one ‘expert’ said he had no intention of ruining a young doctor’s career because of an accident. It didn’t matter that a child’s life had been destroyed; for doctors, their careers are more important than a child’s life.

Susan suffered many problems. A recurring theme was severe pain caused by tendons not growing at the same rate as bone growth. She had many operations to cut her tendons. In one instance, at Buckland Hospital, Dover, the surgeon decided an operation was not necessary and instructed a nurse to press down on Susan’s leg. On her return home, Susan wouldn’t stop screaming. We took her back to the hospital where it was found that her femur had been broken by the pressure applied by the nurse. Our complaint resulted in an apology but it was clear the nurse would have been blamed yet she was merely carrying out instructions given to her by a consultant. We took the complaint no further because we didn’t want to see a relatively innocent nurse sacked for a decision caused by an uncaring and pompous consultant. This is the way doctors wriggle out of responsibility. Would a database have recorded the abuse suffered by my daughter? I doubt it.

Susan eventually went into a Home for severely disabled. She died while being fed by a nurse. We later found out that she was the fourth child to die in similar circumstances. The Home was closed and the abuse hushed up. Would those events have been recorded? Again, I somehow doubt it.

How many parents will be blamed for the actions of doctors and nurses? I dread to think.

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