Health bosses in the UK will publish their report today into claims Baby P could have been saved if managers at a hospital where he was treated had listened to fears raised by senior doctors more than a year before the toddler’s death.
Dr Kim Holt, a consultant paediatrician, said she and three colleagues wrote an open letter detailing problems at the child development clinic at St Ann’s Hospital in Tottenham, north London – which was run by Haringey with doctors employed by Great Ormond Street – in 2006.
She said: “We did not feel that the letter was acted on in any meaningful way. In the mean time a tragedy happened which we felt was foreseeable.”
NHS London will published its report on complaints made by Dr Holt against Great Ormond Street this morning.
However, a statement from the hospital said its findings would largely support their version of events.
It said: “We understand that this independent report, after a thorough investigation, finds that there was no bullying, and no specific targeting or victimisation of staff, around raising concerns, or any other matter.
“The report finds that substantial efforts were made by the PCT and Great Ormond Street Hospital to resolve the issues raised.
“It does make some measured criticisms around some aspects of process which we will act on and learn from. Broadly the Trust feels this report supports its view of events.
“The issue of workload of course is largely a matter of funding, over which we have little control.”
Dr Holt and her colleagues claimed that the clinic was understaffed and had a “chaotic” appointment system which was a risk to patients.
She said: “There was a very chaotic system of making appointments, there were difficulties with notes always being available. We had problems with our secretarial support, in that we didn’t have enough.
“As consultant you carry the responsibility for children in your care, we weren’t really involved in any way in decision making in how the services were developed. That was making us increasingly concerned about risk to patients.”
She claimed that staff felt “overstretched” and were prompted to write the letter when £400,000 (€442,152) of proposed cuts were unveiled.
The expert, who has 25 years’ experience in medicine, said the death of Baby P, now known as Peter Connolly, could have been prevented if the concerns were addressed.
“I saw it (the baby Peter coverage) and I just thought: ’I knew that would happen’. I knew that somehow our service would be involved, I felt that the service was falling to pieces and that something would happen.
“It was very sad because we were desperately trying to say something. Possibly he could have been protected.
“I think he wasn’t seen early enough. From what I’ve read it took four months to get an appointment, that delay is unacceptable.
“We failed him. I think he could have been protected. We were failing other children who did not die.”
Baby Peter died from a catalogue of more than 50 injuries inflicted by his mother, her boyfriend and his brother in August 2007.
He was seen by a locum doctor at St Ann’s before he died, but the medic astonishingly failed to notice that the child had a broken back. Two days later he was dead.
In February 2007 she was advised to take a month off by her GP and has not returned to her job since.