Page last updated at 07:02 GMT, Monday, 23 February 2009

Court case over boy's 1990 death

Robbie Powell
Robbie Powell died in hospital in Swansea in 1990

The General Medical Council (GMC) faces a judicial review over claims it failed to investigate a boy's death nearly 19 years ago.

Robbie Powell, 10, died of Addison's disease, a chronic but treatable condition affecting the adrenal glands.

Robbie's father William Powell, of Ystradgynlais, Powys, had asked the GMC to investigate.

A GMC spokeswoman said: "It would be inappropriate for us to comment ahead of the judicial review."

Mr Powell turned to the charity Action Against Medical Accidents (AvMA) after being told the GMC would not investigate.

The charity has now brought a judicial review against the GMC, which will be considered by the High Court.

Robbie Powell's headstone
I made him a promise on his deathbed I would find out what went wrong
William Powell, Robbie's father

Mr Powell said: "I'm going to pursue this as long as I can, until the full facts of Robbie's death are out in the public domain.

"The doctors were telling me there was nothing wrong with him. But I made him a promise on his deathbed I would find out what went wrong."

In 2004, a jury at the inquest into Robbie's death returned a verdict of natural causes, aggravated by neglect.

The inquest heard a hospital consultant had ordered a test which would have picked up Addison's disease - a rare but treatable hormonal condition - but the test was never carried out.

In the two weeks before his death, Robbie was seen seven times by five family doctors. None of them realised that he might have Addison's disease.

The family first heard of Addison's Disease after the post mortem examination.

Mr Powell wrote to the GMC in June 2003, asking them to investigate his son's care.

He was told in May 2008 that the council could not investigate the doctors, because the events took place more than five years before the allegations were brought to their attention.

'Incredibly courageous'

Peter Walsh, AvMA chief executive, said: "It is clearly not in anyone's interests that such serious allegations go uninvestigated, and that includes the profession as well as patients."

He said Mr Powell had been "incredibly courageous and tenacious" in his fight for justice, and added: "The tragic consequences for Robbie and the implications for the family are awful, but this is something that affects all of us."

Welsh Conservative leader Nick Bourne added his supported to the Powell family and last year accused the GMC of "dragging its feet" over an inquiry.

Robbie's parents were awarded compensation in 1996 after making a clinical negligence claim over his treatment.

The former West Glamorgan Health Authority accepted civil liability.

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