South East Wales

Two doctors accused of manslaughter of Brynithel boy, 12

Ryan Morse Image copyright Family photo

Two GPs have gone on trial accused of the manslaughter of a 12-year-old boy from Blaenau Gwent.

Ryan Morse, from Brynithel, died on 8 December 2012, of Addison's disease.

Dr Lindsey Thomas, 42, of Tredegar, Blaenau Gwent, and Dr Joanne Rudling, 46, of Pontprennau, Cardiff, deny the charges.

Cardiff Crown Court heard Ryan's mother made several appointments at Abernant Surgery in Abertillery, but they failed to diagnose his condition.

Prosecutor John Price QC said: "The cause of his death was what is called an Addison's disease crisis.

"Addison's disease is a rare but treatable disease. There are 10 to 15 cases for every 100,000 people."

The jury heard Ryan's mother became concerned with her son's health during the summer holidays of 2012 when he complained of a bad head, sore throat and aching legs.

Image copyright Wales News Service
Image caption Dr Joanne Rudling (l) and Dr Lindsey Thomas

She was concerned his skin was "yellowing" and feared he may have glandular fever.

The court heard his discolouration had become so obvious his friends had given him the nickname Teabag.

When he fell seriously ill in December 2012, his mother Carol called the surgery and asked for the doctor to call her back, declining an appointment because she felt Ryan was too unwell to move from his bed.

Mr Price told jurors the doctors should have visited Ryan's home to personally examine him.

"Had that happened it would have confirmed the severity of the situation. They would have seen a very sick child in need of immediate attention.

"Ryan was, in fact, dying."

If they were not able to attend his house, Mr Price said the doctors should have sent an ambulance to take him to hospital.

"If they had done as they should, his life would have been saved," he added.

'Significantly underweight'

The court heard Ryan weighed just 4st 11lb at the time of his death.

Mr Price told the court that Dr Rudling failed to weigh him during two appointments, where she became aware of his weight loss.

During police interviews almost a year after his death, Dr Rudling said she thought his weight loss was because he had grown taller.

But Mr Price said: "He was very significantly underweight for a child of his age."

Addison's disease

  • Adrenal gland is damaged and not enough cortisol and aldosterone are produced
  • About 8,400 people in the UK have it
  • Symptoms include fatigue, muscle weakness, loss of appetite and unintentional weight loss
  • People can also develop small areas of darkened skin or darkened lips or gums

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