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Failings in care contributed to death of disabled teenager
Tuesday 29 November 2011
Mencap has called on the health regulator to reopen the case of Kirsty Pearce
Mencap has urged the General Medical Council (GMC), the body responsible for investigating the conduct of doctors, to reopen its case into the death of a 17-year-old disabled teenager at Basildon Hospital in Essex in 2003.
The inquest into Kirsty Pearce’s death took place on Friday (25 November) at Chelmsford Borough Council. The coroner'sexpert witness, Dr Ian Maconochie, of St Mary’s Hospital in London, concluded that “the delay in her [Kirsty] getting the sort of treatment required for her from the outset of her presentation contributed to her death”.
Mencap is concerned that no health professional has been held accountable for the death of Kirsty Pearce – who had a learning disability and complex health needs – despite expert evidence that numerous care failings contributed to her death.
A 2007 Parliamentary Health Service Ombudsman report into her death found that there were ‘significant failings during her final illness’ and that there was a ‘failure to recognise the seriousness of her condition’ by Basildon Hospital. The GMC had planned a disciplinary hearing into the conduct of a doctor on duty the night Kirsty died, but this was then cancelled, despite continuing pressure from Kirsty's family and their MP. The family has been fighting for justice for eight years, and the inquest was an important part in their efforts to see the hospital held to account.
The inquest recorded a narrative verdict, concluding that doctors had failed to recognise the serious condition she was in and that delays from the outset had contributed to her death.
Kirsy's father said: "We have been fighting to get to justice for Kirsty's death since the day she died. It has been very hard to get hospital staff to accept that they have made mistakes. I have written a book about what we've been through as people need to know what happened."
Mr Pearce hopes to get the book, 'Kirsty – A Father's Fight for Justice', published next year.
David Congdon, Mencap’s head of campaigns and policy, said: “The standard of care Kirsty received the night she died was appalling.
“Mencap believes it is unacceptable that no one has been held accountable for Kirsty’s death. This is why we are calling on the GMC to investigate the health professionals responsible for those failings and show that the lives of people with a learning disability are valued by the medical profession.”
Find out more about Mencap’s Death by indifference healthcare campaign