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Wednesday, 17 April, 2002, 15:57 GMT 16:57 UK
'Cover-up' claim over child epilepsy
Annabelle Appleyard
Annabelle Appleyard was misdiagnosed with epilepsy
The parents of children who may have been misdiagnosed with epilepsy have accused a hospital of covering up its errors.

Up to 200 children may have been given the wrong treatment at Leicester Royal Infirmary by consultant paediatrician Dr Andrew Holton.

Some parents are claiming the hospital has not been "frank and honest" about the extent of the errors.

But the medical director of the hospital trust has denied the claims and said 200,000 had been invested to put the problems right.

Dr Andrew Holton
Dr Holton's future is still in question

A report by the the Royal College of Paediatricians and Child Health in November 2001 said there were concerns about the diagnosis by Dr Holton of 170 patients.

The cases of 1,900 children diagnosed by the doctor are also being re-examined.

Jane Hall, head of a support group for parents, said: "I don't think they are being frank with parents and I don't think they are being honest.

"Lots of the letters they are sending out are very misleading.

"The parents that I get phone calls from don't seem to understand the implications of what the letters are saying and they are struggling with children that now have not got a diagnosis but still have something wrong with them."

Ms Hall claimed letters failed to convey the extent of the mistakes and said only that the diagnosis was "questionable".

Difficult condition

She said the letters had failed to spell out that parents had a right for their children to be seen by a second doctor.

But Dr Allan Cole, medical director of the University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust, said: "I absolutely refute that we are trying to cover this up.

"It is impossible to be definite in these cases, that may mean that some people claim we are not being frank but the difficulty is that epilepsy is not fully understood by anyone.

"I have spelt out in a newsletter that parents have a right to a second opinion."

Dr Cole said that so far 1050 of about 1,900 had been reviewed.

He expected that up to 200 cases would give rise to concern and would be investigated further to see if a misdiagnosis had occurred.

Dr Holton remains suspended on full pay.

See also:

05 Mar 02 | Health
Epilepsy diagnosis warning
29 Nov 01 | England
Hospital admits epilepsy errors
07 Sep 01 | Health
Epilepsy doctor to be replaced
09 Jul 01 | Health
Inquiry into epilepsy doctor
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