Robbie Powell

Robbie Powell died at the age of ten on the 17th April 1990 of a
treatable condition called Addison's disease which, unknown to his
parents, had been suspected four months before his death, when he had
been an inpatient at Morriston Hospital, Swansea. The test to confirm
the diagnosis was ordered by the hospital consultant but not
performed. Addison's disease invariably results in death without
treatment; however, if treated the patient can live a full and normal
life. Please note that the hospital had in fact informed the GPs of
the suspicion Addison's disease and requested immediate referral if
Robert had a recurrence of, inter alia, vomiting and/or abdominal
pain. Between the 2nd and 17th April Robert was seen by five GPs from
the Ystradgynlais Health Centre on seven separate occasions [i.e. 2,
6, 11, 15, 16 and twice on the 17]. In the 2 weeks leading to Robert's
death he had been vomiting [a characteristic symptom of Addison's
disease which had led to his initial hospital admission], was so weak
he couldn't walk unassisted, had excessive weight loss and had dilated
pupils and central cyanosis when he regained consciousness after
fainting on the day he died. In the light of these symptoms and the
several earlier consultations the GP refused hospital admission. On
her second visit the GP again refused hospital admission but
eventually agreed following a heated argument. However, the Powells'
request for an ambulance was refused. On arrival at the hospital, Mr
Powell watched his youngest son take his last conscious breath. Robert
was declared dead shortly after.

The Powells were refused an Inquest and the Coroner did not have any
preliminary inquiries notwithstanding medical negligence had been
alleged. The senior partner at the health centre refused Mr Powell's
request for an investigation into Robert's death. The doctors
subsequently falsified Robbie's medical records to avoid the
consequences of their gross negligence [this is supported by forensic
evidence] and did so with the knowledge that Mr Powell and a witness
had examined and noted the original documents. The Powells had no
other option but to complain to the appropriate Family Practitioners
Committee. A subsequent appeal hearing at the Welsh Office in 1992
collapsed because of alleged maladministration which the Welsh Office
vigorously denied for three years in the light of evidence to the
contrary. However, even when the Powells were vindicated, and the
Welsh Office was forced to admit the maladministration, the Powells
were still refused their statutory right to a fair and honest
investigation into Robert's death and did not even receive an apology.
However, seven years after the collapse of the Welsh Office appeal the
Parliamentary Ombudsman accepted, after initially refusing to
investigate the case in 1993, that it was the Welsh Office's
maladministration which caused the collapse of the appeal and Mr
Powell was awarded 500 for the injustice and hardship he had
suffered. The Parliamentary Ombudsman did not recommend that the Welsh
Office should now have an inquiry into Robbie's death and has to date
failed to explain why he initially refused to investigate the Powells'
MP's complaint in 1993.

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