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Baby Peter whistleblower calls for Great Ormond Street Hospital investigation

15:05 27 April 2012

Dr Kim Holt, who raised concerns about unsafe practices in the unit where Baby Peter was seen, has called for an investigation at Great Ormond Street Hospital. Picture: John Stillwell/PA

Dr Kim Holt, who raised concerns about unsafe practices in the unit where Baby Peter was seen, has called for an investigation at Great Ormond Street Hospital. Picture: John Stillwell/PA

PA Wire/Press Association Images

Baby Peter whistleblower Dr Kim Holt has called on the government to investigate Great Ormond Street Hospital following the death of a baby who was wrongly diagnosed as abused.

Rohan Wray, 22, and Chana Al-Alas, 19, were accused of abusing their baby, Jayden, when he was admitted to the hospital in 2009.

The couple, from Islington, were acquitted in court of murdering their son and have now called for an investigation into his death.

A post mortem later revealed the four-month-old baby’s fractures were caused by rickets, a softening of the bones caused by vitamin D deficiency, which is often picked up in radiology tests.

Consultant paediatrician Dr Holt said baby Jayden’s case raised concerns about how staff concerned about quality of care are treated by senior managers.

She said: “This is down to the government. There is enough information to indicate something isn’t right here. The government needs to investigate the issue of whistleblowers at Great Ormond Street Hospital.

“Andrew Lansley must look at this in detail and sort it out because otherwise it is going to continue to rumble along.”

Dr Holt has campaigned for protection for whistleblowers since she raised concerns about shortfalls at a Haringey clinic run by Great Ormond Street Hospital in 2006, six months before Baby Peter Connelly was seen by the clinic.

Baby Peter later died at the hands of his mother and her lover after the clinic missed injuries to the child.

Dr Holt was placed on paid leave for three years after blowing the whistle on her concerns, but Great Ormond Street later apologised in summer 2011.

A documentary broadcast last week on the BBC raised concerns that cuts to the radiology department at the world famous children’s hospital have led to a “dumbing down” of care.

The hospital, in Great Ormond Street, Bloomsbury, was also accused of victimising and bullying staff who raised concerns. Great Ormond Street denies this and insists its supports staff who raise concerns.

Speaking of her own experience, Dr Holt, who now works at the Whittington Hospital in Highgate, said senior Great Ormond Street managers were “unreceptive” to her concerns.

She said: “My feeling when I took information to the senior management team at Great Ormond Street Hospital was that they weren’t receptive to hearing those concerns and addressing them.

“I hope that in the baby Jayden case, that the full information will be made available and that there will be no attempt to hide anything.

“If they find somebody was negligent then disciplinary action needs to be taken.

“If they find there was a lack of a key service then we need to see the organisation as a whole take responsibility.”

A hospital spokeswoman said doctors are discussing whether changes in practice are necessary following baby Jayden’s death.

She added: “The trust actively encourages staff to raise any concerns so that we can learn and improve.

“Allegations have been made that the department is less skilled than it was previously, particularly around child protection and non-accidental injuries. We do not accept this.”

A department of health spokeswoman said they were not considering an investigation into the hospital.

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