MP tells Great Ormond Street chief to quit over Baby P

Equalities minister Lynne Featherstone is calling for Great Ormond Street Hospital boss Dr Jane Collins to resign.

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A government minister has called on the chief executive of Great Ormond Street Hospital (Gosh) to resign for "covering up" failings in the Baby Peter case.

Liberal Democrat Lynne Featherstone accuses the hospital of withholding crucial information about the children's clinic where its locum doctor examined the toddler two days before he died.

It follows an investigation by BBC London which reveals the hospital failed to pass on to an official inquiry findings of a report into St Ann's clinic in Haringey, including the fact its senior doctor viewed it as "clinically risky".

Home Office minister Ms Featherstone has said the government should investigate and called for Dr Jane Collins to step down.

She said: "I'm disgusted. I cannot believe that anyone, let alone people in these very trusted positions, would hold back, withhold, doctor, cover-up information."

'First class CEO'

The chairwoman of the Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children NHS Trust, Baroness Tessa Blackstone, said: "The trust board has complete confidence in Dr Collins, she is a first class CEO.

"As a board we have confidence that the trust has never sought to mislead any inquiry into the death of a child. The non-executive directors have met Ms Featherstone to discuss her concerns with her.

"We did not accept her views."

Start Quote

Regardless of the investigation as to what actually went on in terms of the failings, the person, Dr Jane Collins, who removed the information, in my view has to resign”

End Quote Lynne Featherstone MP

During a serious case review (SCR) into Peter Connelly's death in August 2007, Great Ormond Street commissioned an independent investigation by two of the country's most experienced paediatricians, Professor Jo Sibert and Dr Deborah Hodes.

But the hospital then produced an edited version of their report and passed that - not the original - to the SCR.

'Clinically risky situation'

The BBC London investigation reveals the following key findings and criticisms were left out:

  • the head of the unit Dr Sukanta Bannerjee considered it a "clinically risky situation"
  • the arrangements for seeing child protection cases there caused "grave concern"
  • there was a "clearly unacceptable" four-month delay in Peter's appointment
  • the doctor who examined Peter should not have been appointed by Gosh because she had "little experience and training in child protection"
  • there were "significant concerns" in two of only four previous child protection cases she had seen there.

Ms Featherstone said: "Regardless of the investigation as to what actually went on in terms of the failings, the person, Dr Jane Collins, who removed the information, in my view has to resign.

"If someone who is vested with the responsibility to stand full square for saving children, safeguarding children, removes vital information that therefore never gets to the SCR, I can think of no more serious charge than that."

A spokesman for Gosh said: "It was not an attempt to cover up deficiencies.

Peter Connelly Peter Connelly died in August 2007 after suffering months of abuse

"The then director of nursing, based on the advice she received, attempted to abridge the report and pass it, with the action plan, to inform the serious case review.

"We're absolutely confident in her integrity."

The fresh details have emerged in the full report released to BBC London under the Freedom of Information Act.

Gosh employed the doctors and medical staff at St Ann's, including Dr Sabah Al-Zayyat, on behalf of Haringey Primary Care Trust.

Damning comments

Although she found numerous bruises and marks, clearly suggestive of abuse, she allowed Peter home.

Last year Gosh's chief executive Dr Collins defended the decision to hand over an edited version of the report.

Start Quote

I find it unbelievable this level of information was not provided”

End Quote Edi Carmi Author of the SCR report

She insisted it included "all the relevant information" and details relating to Dr Al-Zayyat and other cases she had seen were withheld for legal reasons.

But the summary cut out approximately half of the original report, excluding criticisms of the unit and the author's most damning comments.

The author of the SCR, Edi Carmi, said she was shocked by the information withheld, saying much of it concerned resources, training and recruitment, and management issues fundamental to her inquiry.

"I've never been aware of any agency withholding this sort of information from a SCR. I find it unbelievable this level of information was not provided," she said.

She said the most significant omission was the report's overall conclusions and one section in particular.

The report said: "Dr Bannerjee is clinical director of the service. She says that it is a 'clinically risky situation'. Dr Bannerjee feels that she is fire-fighting all the time.

Grave concern

"We agree with her and we believe the present arrangements for seeing child protection cases at St Ann's cause grave concern.

"In particular the lack of consultant staff and the problems linking with the North Middlesex and Great Ormond Street make things very difficult."

Ms Carmi said: "If we had known that we actually would've had a problem with the SCR process, that we had actually had a management review that didn't give this information, we had had numerous meetings where this was not discussed.

"We would actually have had to have questioned the extent to which we were getting openness from a particular agency."

Start Quote

Great Ormond Street Hospital has no reason to believe that any of its staff, with the approval or without the approval of management, sought to mislead the serious case review or otherwise to hide deficiencies in the service”

End Quote Gosh spokesman

What Dr Bannerjee told Professor Sibert was in contrast to her own official report to the serious case review panel - of which she was also a member - which gave the clinic a clean bill of health.

In her Individual Management Review (IMR), she said Peter and his family "received a very considerable level of caring support and work from various health services in Haringey Primary Care Trust".

She continued: "There was no single clear act or omission, on the part of health professionals within Haringey PCT that resulted in or could have averted Peter's death."

The Gosh spokesman said: "Great Ormond Street Hospital has no reason to believe that any of its staff, with the approval or without the approval of management, sought to mislead the serious case review or otherwise to hide deficiencies in the service.

"Management neither instructed nor hinted that any person should do so."

The short version of the report also removed criticisms of the long delay in arranging Baby Peter's appointment at the clinic.

This was one of the central questions for the review, given that an earlier intervention might have set in train moves to protect him.

Professor Sibert wrote: "The delays in being seen, for a child protection case, were also clearly unacceptable: four months from the original referral. In this period, further information should have been sought."

Chief Executive of Great Ormond Street Hospital Dr Jane Collins Great Ormond Street Hospital insisted Dr Jane Collins was a 'first class' chief executive

This view contrasted with the opinion given by Gosh's most senior consultant, Dr David Elliman, who told the review "the correct priority was attached to this referral".

Professor Sibert's report recommended the "urgent appointment of a named doctor in child protection" and also the "re-appointment of the senior lecturer in community child health."

But these recommendations were not included in the version sent to the serious case review authors.

The hospital spokesman said: "There have been a lot of lessons to learn from the sad death of Peter Connelly.

"Ofsted found the first SCR process inadequate. We don't feel with hindsight that this IMR was adequate.

"The individuals concerned worked hard to keep the service running under difficult circumstances, we have no evidence to support the idea that they wanted to cover anything up.

Great Ormond Street says it provided the full report for a second serious case review six months later, but the chairman of that inquiry, Graham Badman, told BBC London he had never seen it.

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