Baby Peter doctor 'missed unique opportunity'

By Branwen Jeffreys
Health correspondent, BBC News

Image caption,
Dr Ikwueke arriving at the hearing

The GP who saw Baby Peter missed a "unique opportunity" to send him to hospital just eight days before his death, a hearing has been told.

Dr Jerome Ikwueke has appeared before the General Medical Council facing allegations of professional misconduct.

While he admitted having seen Peter on numerous occasions, he disputes the claim he neglected his professional duty to look after the child.

Peter Connelly died on 3 August 2007 with more than 50 injuries.

These included fractured ribs and a broken back.

In the year before his death Peter was seen more than half a dozen times by Dr Ikwueke.

The GMC panel was told that Dr Ikwueke last saw Peter, from north London, on 26 July. It is alleged he failed to adequately examine Peter, which might have led to the toddler being sent to hospital.

Post mortem

The GMC panel was told that when Dr Ikwueke saw Peter on 26 July he later described the toddler as being a "sorry sight", withdrawn and markedly changed in his behaviour.

The hearing was told that post mortem evidence suggested some of Peter's ribs would have been broken, and he had visible bruising and injuries to his head.

On 30 July, Tracey Connelly spoke to the GP and said Peter had grab marks. It is alleged this was another warning sign ignored by Dr Ikwueke.

The GP, who qualified in Nigeria, had been working in the UK for decades. In 2006 he had received training from the local NHS designed to make family doctors aware of child protection issues.

Peter's mother Tracey Connelly had registered the family as patients with Dr Ikwueke in 2003.

The GMC heard he was aware of her history of depression, and that she was struggling to cope with being a mother. Dr Ikwueke's hearing was adjourned until Tuesday.

Peter's mother, her boyfriend, Steven Barker, and his brother, Jason Owen, were jailed in May last year for causing or allowing his death.

Dr Ikwueke is the second doctor to face GMC allegations over Peter's care.

Consultant paediatrician Sabah Al-Zayyat is accused of failing to spot that he was suffering abuse two days before his death.

She was due to face a GMC disciplinary panel in February but did not turn up.

The hearing was adjourned until a later date after she was said to be "suicidal".

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