HMA v MARK CHRISTOPHER SIMPSON

Following sentence today in this case Lord Uist made the following statement in court:

“I wish to add that the evidence which I have heard in the course of this trial gives rise to serious concern on my part about the way in which baby Alexis was dealt with by the Health Service and whether her subsequent death could have been prevented had signs of non-accidental injury been detected earlier. It is not for me to ascribe blame to anyone in these criminal proceedings, but I consider that there are two matters which call for an inquiry with a view to preventing a tragedy such as the one that occurred in this case ever occurring again.

First, I was concerned to learn of the appointments system operated by the Woodside Medical Group in relation to baby Alexis. Three separate drugs were prescribed for her by a doctor after a telephone consultation with her mother and without his having seen or examined baby Alexis. Expert medical witnesses expressed surprise at this, and so do I. Moreover, it must be a matter of concern that a young mother who was seriously concerned about her baby’s health and sought an appointment with a doctor on a Thursday was offered one only for the following week. It is my opinion that the appointments system operated at this surgery may require urgent review so as to ensure that children requiring urgent attention receive it by being seen by a doctor there.

Secondly, I was very disturbed to learn that, when baby Alexis was seen by a doctor on Thursday 29 November after her grandmother had insisted on an urgent appointment, she was not examined by the doctor in question and nothing was done about possible signs of non-accidental injury, namely, subconjunctival haemorrhages in both eyes. Evidence was given by a consultant neurosurgeon that the explanation given for these haemorrhages could not possibly be an explanation and that baby Alexis should have been referred to a paediatrician. A consultant paediatrician gave evidence that it would have been best for the GP to phone the paediatricians for a consultation and had that been done baby Alexis would have been admitted to hospital more or less immediately.  Whether the death of baby Alexis could have been prevented had she been so referred is a matter which, in my opinion, merits a very full inquiry. The training of GPs, and also health visitors, to detect signs of non-accidental injury may be a matter that requires further consideration. I trust that the Crown will give serious consideration to the question whether a fatal accident inquiry should now be held in this case”. 

You can read the sentence imposed on Mark Simpson here.