Five-year-old girl died after GP turns her away for being just FOUR minutes late to appointment


by Emma Dodds |
Published on

Poor Ellie-May Clark was turned away despite only being a few minutes late

A five-year-old girl has died of an asthma attack after her GP refused to see her for being four minutes late to an appointment.

Ellie-May Clark, from Newport in Wales, passed away in January 2015 after suffering from an asthma attack which caused her to stop breathing.

Her mother, Shanice Clark, discovered that she had stopped breathing an hour after she put her to bed - she died only a few minutes later.

Ellie-May Clark passed away aged five from an asthma attack (Credit: Facebook/Shanice Clark) ©Facebook/Shanice Clark

The Mail on Sunday recently uncovered an NHS report which said that the family were eight minutes late to the practise, but Shanice disputes this, saying that she "she checked the time on her mobile phone when she arrived."

The General Medical Council (GMC) held a disciplinary hearing last May for the doctor in question, Dr Joanne Rowe, which concluded that "the 'root cause' of the girl's death was Dr Rowe's refusal to see her."

It also found that "staff were 'fearful' of questioning Dr Rowe because of her 'repeated angry outbursts' and 'volatile' nature".

Dr Rowe turned Ellie-May and her mother Shanice away as they were "four minutes late" (Credit: Getty Images) ©Getty Images

Not only that, but that "months earlier, a paediatrician had written to Dr Rowe warning that Ellie-May was 'at risk of another life-threatening asthma attack'".

The hearing also found that Dr Rowe turned them away as she was seeing another patient, "but the surgery’s computer system showed that was not the case".

The 53-year-old doctor, who no longer practises at The Grange Clinic where Ellie-May was registered, was suspended for six months on full pay following the death of Ellie-May January 2015, and she agreed to accept a written warning not do it again.

Ellie-May's grandmother, Brandi Clark, said: "We've never even had an apology from Dr Rowe, who got away with just a slap on the wrist after her clock-watching attitude killed our beautiful girl.

"She has been allowed to get on with her life, get another job and forget about it. But we have been left with nothing but pain. Ellie-May has been denied the life she should have had."

Mum Shanice with Ellie-May as a toddler (Credit: Facebook/Shanice Clark) ©Facebook/Shanice Clark

According to the receptionist's account of what happened, she called Dr Rowe through to ask if she would see the little girl and her mother, and she apparently "shouted something like 'No I'm not seeing her, she's late'."

The receptionist then responded: "She'll have to come back in the morning, won't she?" The report states that the doctor then said to the receptionist that "the patient was more than ten minutes behind schedule so too late to be seen" - it was then agreed Ellie-May should return the next morning.

However, once the Clarks had left, another of the GP's doctors said to a receptionist "that they could not turn emergency appointments away".

Tragically, Ellie-May would pass away before she could get to the morning appointment the next day. Shanice found Ellie-May having an asthma attack at 10.35pm that day, and the little girl had stopped breathing. Shanice rang 999 but even though many people tried to resuscitate Ellie-May including her family, the ambulance paramedics and doctors at Royal Gwent Hospital, the five-year-old died.

Charlie Massey, chief executive of the GMC, said: "We extend our deepest sympathy to the family for their loss. This doctor has a clear warning against her medical register entry, detailing the shortcomings in the care she provided.

"It's clear that in this case the family was not given all of the information necessary to understand why we took the action that we did. We will review our arrangements to make sure those processes work in the best interests of families."

Have you ever felt as though you've been let down by a medical professional? Let us know over on Facebook and Twitter.

Read more like this:

Mum who donated her 7-year-old daughter's heart meets the little girl whose life it saved

Four-year-old girl saves her mum's life after 999 call

This parent is totally honest about the struggles of becoming a mum - can you relate?

Just so you know, whilst we may receive a commission or other compensation from the links on this website, we never allow this to influence product selections - read why you should trust us