Misattributions and the Consequences

Mother Given Reprieve Over Threat to Take Daughter Into Care
The Scotsman 15 September 1998 - Stephen Breen

CHILD care professionals have temporarily withdrawn their threat to take a girl into care, because her mother disagreed with a consultant about her daughter's treatment.

The woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons but lives in East Lothian with her daughter, is angry that the case was referred to the reporter to he Children's Panel. She is to report seven of the doctors involved to the General Medical Council.

The Scotsman revealed two weeks ago that Dr. Dayeel Goh, a consultant paediatrician at Edenhall Hospital, Musselburgh, referred the case to the Reporter in East Lothian in February after disagreements with the girl's mother over her treatment.

The mother believed her 12 year-old daughter was suffering from the chronic fatigue syndrome myalgic encephalomyeliis (ME), but Dr. Goh disagreed.

Doctors are divided over whether or not the condition exists among children. Some argue that it is a physical disorder while others contest that it is a mental health problem that will respond to psychiatric treatment.

The girl was admitted to a paediatric psychiatric unit at Newcastle General Hospital last year. But her mother, a former social worker, removed the child because she claimed her condition was deteriorating.

The woman contacted another doctor and a consultant who contradicted the original diagnosis and confirmed she was suffering from ME. Her condition has considerably improved since she began seeing Dr Nigel Speight, an ME specialist from Dryburn Hospital, Durham, and Dr David Mason Brown, from North Berwick.

Both doctors accused their colleagues of treating the woman and her child with arrogance and insensitivity which was harmful to their health.

Dr Mason Brown is preparing a report to the General Medical Council about the behaviour of some of the professionals involved.

The mother received a letter from Celia McCracken, the Reporter to the Children's Panel, this week confirming that she was not going to press ahead with a children's hearing because it was "not in the child's best interest".

But the letter threatened the woman with a future hearing if the girl's health did not continue to improve. Mrs McCracken states the views of Dr Speight and Dr Mason Brown "are not broadly held" and adds "it is my view that your perspective is having a deleterious effect on (your daughter's) school attendance and has hindered opportunities for her educational, social and emotional development.

"Should there not be continuing progress and co-operation with the reasonable expectations of local professionals then I expect that I will receive a further referral and will need to reconsider her case again."

The mother said last night, "Dr Speight and Dr Masor Brown have both confirmed that my daughter has ME and her condition has considerably improved since she has been seeing them. Despite this, then is the very thinly veiled threat that child protection proceedings will continue again if my daughter does not improve."

The woman confirmed last night that she is reporting seven doctors to the General Medical Council over the case.

She is also angry that Dr Goh referred her daughter's case to the Children's Panel almost a year after the last time she had seen her.

She alleges Dr Goh failed to return her telephone calls when she tried to explain why she had taken her daughter from Newcastle General Hospital.

She also claims she was referred to a consultant psychiatrist to see what support she could be given because of the difficulties she was experiencing looking after her daughter. She states the consultant then made a secret report on her without her knowledge.

She has so far failed to obtain the medical notes made about her as a result of the dispute over her daughter's treatment.

Dr Speight said yesterday "The threat of child protection proceedings has been only partially removed. The Reporter has obviously taken the side of the local paediatrician and ignored my views."


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