A five-year-old girl died of an asthma attack after an “unapproachable and volatile” doctor refused to see her because she and her mother arrived a few minutes late for her appointment, the General Medical Council has found.
Ellie-May Clark had been sent home from school because her condition was worsening but was refused her emergency appointment with Dr Joanne Rowe at The Grange Clinic, Newport, in January 2015.
Dr Rowe told health officials she was seeing another patient at the time, but examination of her schedule showed this was not the case.
Despite the damning findings by the General Medical Council (GMC), Dr Rowe is still working as a GP, but the Clark family are now calling for her to face charges.
Ellie-May had been to the clinic numerous times because of her asthma and had also been treated for it in hospital.
Another doctor had also written to Dr Rowe months before the incident to inform her the child was “at risk of another episode of severe/life-threatening asthma”, according to the Mail on Sunday.
Her mother, Shanice, was given a 5pm appointment after ringing the clinic on the afternoon of 26 January.
She insisted they arrived at 5.04pm, contradicting NHS documents which registered her arrival as 5.08pm.
Ellie-May and her mother were turned away by Dr Rowe without the GP ever seeing them, the GMC found. The report was kept secret but leaked to some media outlets.
Dr Rowe shouted to a receptionist “something like ‘no, I’m not seeing her, she’s late,'” the GMC report said, according to the Mail.
Later that night, Ellie-May suffered a fatal asthma attack. Its “root cause” was that Dr Rowe had refused to see her, the report said.
It was later revealed that another doctor at the surgery expressed concern after the Clark family left and told the receptionist they “could not turn emergency appointments away”.
The GMC found Dr Rowe’s temperament was a factor in the conduct of the clinic’s staff.
The report said: “There is a consensus that Dr Rowe is unapproachable and volatile. Many staff reported being afraid to challenge her decisions or seek a second opinion from one of the other doctors.”
Dr Rowe was suspended for six months but retained her salary and was given a written warning which will expire in five years.
She is now working at another surgery in Cardiff.
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“Her decision cost our gorgeous little girl her life,” Ellie-May’s grandmother, Brandi Clark, told the BBC.
“Our lives have been shattered, but Dr Rowe has been allowed to get a new job and quietly move on with her life as if nothing ever happened.
“We all feel terribly let down, I think Dr Rowe should go to jail for what she did. I can’t believe she was not struck off.”
Ms Clark added that the family had not had an apology from Dr Rowe.
An inquest into Ellie-May’s death will be held by the Gwent Coroner.
The Independent has contacted the Aneurin Bevan University Health Board, which controls The Grange Clinic, for comment.