Select Committee on Health Minutes of Evidence


Memorandum by Mr William Powell - continued

EVIDENCE REGARDING THE VOMITING AND PRESCRIPTION OF DIORALYTE

  1.  Mr Powell confirmed in his statement that Robert had been vomiting and Dr Williams had prescribed dioralyte on the 11 April;

  2.  In response to [and in the light of] Mr Powell's statement Dr Williams asserted that Robert had not been vomiting and the prescription for dioralyte was omitted. Please note that the dioralyte is also omitted from Dr Williams' consultation note and the concocted referral letter;

  3.  Mr Powell secured, with great difficulty, a copy of the prescription for dioralyte. The Chemist who dispensed the dioralyte and who is a personal friend of Dr Williams erased the information regarding the dioralyte from his computer;

    Dr Williams, in the light that Mr Powell could prove diroalyte was prescribed, accepted at the MSC hearing that he had prescribed it;

    In answer to Mr Powell's questions at the MSC hearing, Dr Williams said that he had prescribed dioralyte for abdominal pain.

  Please note that according to Dr Williams' written statement, Robert did not have abdominal pain, on the 11 April, and dioralyte has no pain relieving qualities. The GPs on the MSC accepted this untruthful medical evidence.

DR FLOWER'S EVIDENCE

  1.  Mr Powell confirmed in his statement that Robert had collapsed and fainted on 17 April; that the child had dilated pupils and blue lips; and that Dr Flower had refused an ambulance. This evidence was supported at the MSC hearing by Mr Powell's sister;

  2.  In response to Mr Powell's statement Dr Flower said that Robert had not fainted when the health centre's record of the telephone call confirmed that he had. Please note that forensic evidence confirmed that additions had been made to the telephone record to corroborate Dr Flower's untruthful evidence. Dr Flower also denied that Robert had dilated pupils and blue lips. Please note that the hospital record, available to the MSC hearing confirmed, inter alia, that on arrival to hospital Robert had dilated pupils, was peripherally shut down and had central cyanosis. Although the above evidence supported Mr Powell's version of events, Dr Flower's evidence was believed.

  There are many more examples, which expose the MSC as being biased, but the three mentioned above, in Mr Powell's view, clearly highlights his concerns.

  West Glamorgan FHSA found Drs Elwyn Hughes, Flower [6/4/90], Williams, Keith Hughes and Boladz were not breach of their terms of service. However, Dr Flower was found in breach regarding the 17 April. "Dr Flower having been told of the patient's collapse and her partner's concern the previous day should have either admitted the patient to hospital on the first visit of the day or placed herself in a position to check the patient's medical record on her return to the surgery, and in not doing so was in breach 13 of Terms of Service." Dr Flower was given the minimum reprimand; she was warned to conform with her terms of service.

  Mr Powell challenged the accurancy of the MSC report [which was a summary] and also the fact that it omitted relevant evidence, which incriminated the respondent GPs. However, following a request for a copy of the verbatim notes, recorded at the MSC hearing, West Glamorgan FHSA conveniently destroyed them. It is of paramount importance that a statutory duty to take verbatim notes during all stages of NHS complaint procedures be introduced forthwith. The complainant should be furnished with the verbatim notes as well as the summary report in order that the grounds for any subsequent appeal can be based on all the available facts and evidence.

  Mr Powell exercised his right to appeal to the Secretary of State for Wales regarding the four GPs who were found not in breach of their terms of service. The Secretary of State initially appointed as Chairman a solicitor from his legal department. However, when this was challenged it was agreed that his appointment was inappropriate in the light of his identification with West Glamorgan health Authority. Please note that this was a direct conflict of interest as West Glamorgan Health Authority subsequently admitted liability for Robert's death and was complicit in the falsifying of the medical records. It would appear that the Welsh Office, at this early stage, was trying to limit damage criticism of the GPs and West Glamorgan Health Authority.

1992

  17 March: The appeal convened and was listed for three days. However, this was insufficient time and the appeal had to be adjourned for six months on 19 March. A barrister, solicitor and medical expert represented Mr Powell. During the course of three days, Mr Powell's barrister alleged, inter alia, that Robert's medical records had been falsified. Particular reference was made about the absence of a signature and the appropriate health centre's block stamp on Robert's Discharge Notification. It was alleged that the absence of this information suggested that the Discharge Notification initially accompanied one of the other discharge documents, which had been subsequently removed. The GPs, their legal team and the appeal panel did not challenge the absence of the block stamp. Please note that Mr Powell's forensic document expert had sent the original GP records to the Welsh Office, by Recorded Delivery, one week before the commencement of the appeal [ie 10 March] and the Chairman introduced the GP records as evidence on the 17 March. It was the understanding of the Powells, their legal team and the Director of Administration of West Glamorgan FHSA that the Welsh Office would secure the original GP records during the adjournment of the appeal.

  7 September: There was uproar at the reconvened hearing when it came to light that there was now a block stamp on the Discharge Notification and additional original GP documents, which had not been part of the GP records in March, had now appeared. The Welsh Office could not confirm the whereabouts of original GP records.

  8 September: The Chairman of the appeal denied any responsibility for the GP records, notwithstanding he had personally introduced them as evidence, and refused Mr Powell's barrister's request to investigate where they had been, or to call in the police. Mr Powell had no other option but to withdraw from the appeal.

  I have enclosed the official summary of the Parliamentary Ombudsman's report which severely criticizes the Welsh Office's handling of the Powell's appeal and confirms that its maladministration caused the collapse of the appeal, Mr Powell's 3 page response that report, a letter which accompanied the report to every Welsh MP from Mr and Mrs Askew and an article which was in the Mail on Sunday 25 April 1999 [A-6]. The Ombudsman's Report is 55 pages and, if requested, Mr Powell is prepared to submit the full report to the Health Committee. Please note that it took Mr Powell seven years to prove that the Welsh Office's maladministration caused the collapse of the appeal and that this information was available to the Welsh Office in 1992. To date, the Powells have been denied their statutory right to an inquiry into Robert's death under the NHS complaint procedures. Mr Powell's MP, Mr Richard Livsey, has written to the Secretary of State for Wales on the 21 April 1999 [A-7] requesting that there should now be a full inquiry in the light of the Parliamentary Ombudsman's Report.

   I have attached my submission to Baroness Hayman as presented by Mr and Mrs Chris Askew at their recent meeting this year [A-8]. I refer you specifically to Rhodri Morgan MP's letters, which state, inter alia,

  1.  9 November 1993—"In having to understand the whole history myself with Mr Powell, I have come to the general conclusion that the entire complaints procedure rigmarole, through which Mr and Mrs Powell had to go, was a stitch-up from start to finish."

  I appreciate that this refers to the old NHS compaint procedures. I have therefore quoted the comments of the Public Law Project into their evaluation of the most recent NHS complaint procedures which, if anything, is more biased and corrupt than the old system:

THE PUBLIC LAW PROJECT—"YOU AND YOURS"—RADIO 4—MARCH 1999

RE: INDEPENDENT REVIEW OF THE CURRENT NHS COMPLAINT PROCEDURES

  "The first independent National Research into the effectiveness of the NHS complaint procedures has just been released by the Public Law Project. The findings back up what critics have been saying all along—that it is simply not working. There is growing evidence that the NHS complaint procedures are failing because people are not getting past the first hurdle [ie Local Resolution].

  The Health Service Ombudsman has stated that it does not matter that conveners try to be impartial an investigation is never going to look fair to the complainant.

  The main criticism is that once an independent investigation is set up it may not be independent at all. What was very fascinating in our research is that the conveners themselves recognise tensions and conflicts of interest in their role. Almost half admitted they felt compromised because they were Directors of the very NHS Trust under investigation. The conveners felt influenced because they inevitably got to know lthe staff who were involved which could incline to give them the benefit of the doubt. The conveners felt loyalty and trust for the organisation and did not wish to see its reputation tarnished in some way"

  And

  2.  18/12/95—"Since this has been going on for over three years, it seems to me that the Welsh Office should now be expediting moves to commence this inquiry, so that it helped to clear up what is, at first sight anyway, one of the worst cases of maladministration or deliberate cover-up that may have stained the record of the Welsh Office in its thirty years plus history."

  The remit of subsequent Elias inquiry was conveniently limited by the Welsh Office to avoid a full investigation of the serious improprieties, which were later, to a certain extent, exposed by the Parliamentary Ombudsman [see A-6]. In the light of this report the Welsh Office did not apologize and again refused Mr Powell's request for his costs of the appeal and also the call for an inquiry into Robert's death. The Welsh Office has, and continues to demonstrate a staggering disregard for the life of Robert Powell and openly expresses contempt for the Powells who seek only the truth.

  West Glamorgan Health Authority admitted liability for Robert's death in 1996 and paid £80,000 compensation to Mrs Powell with £20,000 costs. The case against the GPs was struck-out of the Civil Court on the grounds that a doctor has no legal duty to tell the truth to parents following the negligent death of their child. The GPs vigourously deny any wrongdoing in the light of forensic evidence to the contrary and independent medical expert reports asserting their negligence. Mrs Powell's compensation had been completely absorbed in legal fees unsuccessfully challenging the Judgment in the Court of Appeal and the House of Lords. The Court of Appeal placed an order for costs against the Powells for exercising their right to challenge the Judgment. The admissibility of the case is currently being considered in the European Court of Human Rights. I attach a letter Mr Powell's solicitor sent to the Prime Minister and the Department of Health and their replies [A-9]. Please note that the Prime Minister forwarded the correspondence to the Department of Health who had already stated that it would be inappropriate to comment. The Health Committee may wish to ask the Prime Minister and the Department of Health whether or not they agree with the judgment. Accepting the judgment, in Mr Powell's view, would clearly compromise, inter alia, the NHS complaint procedures, the proposed Freedom of Information Act and the current Public Inquiry into the deaths of the Children at the Bristol Royal Infirmary. I also attach a letter that Mr Powell [who was accompanied by Simon Hughes MP] personally delivered, on behalf of the Bereaved Parents Group,to 10 Downing Street, on 16 June 1998 [A-10]. Please note that Mr Blair has not had the courtesy to even acknowledge receipt.

ABUSE OF PUBLIC FUNDS RE: MEDICAL NEGLIGENCE LITIGATION

  The Powells' case has cost the taxpayer of Britain hundreds of thousands of pounds and they are still no nearer the truth today than they were on the night that Robert died. The Powells have raised the abuse of public funds with, inter alia, the Welsh Office, Iechyd Morgannwg Health Authority [the successor of West Glamorgan Health Authority which admitted liability for Robert's death], the Welsh Affairs Committee [on two separate occasions], various MPs, two CHCs and the Western Mail, but to no avail. It therefore adds insult to injury when the Government criticizes individuals for the rise in medical negligence costs when the majority of these costs are a consequence of an inadequate NHS complaint procedure and a lack of accountability within the NHS and Government. It is the inability to establish the truth and the denial of justice, which forces concerned individuals into medical negligence litigation. I attach the Welsh Office's circular DGM(95)42 dated 28 March 1995; my letter of the 6 November 1996 asking the Welsh Office whether such a document existed; the Welsh Office's denial that DGM(95)42 existed dated 12 December 1996 [the Welsh Office was obviously unaware that I had secured a copy of DGM(95)42]; the Welsh Office's letter of 13 May 1997 confirming that Health Authorities and Trusts do not have to comply with the conditions of DGM(95)42; my inital letter to the Welsh Affairs Committee dated 18 December 1996 which received no reply or even an acknowledgement of receipt; my further letter to the Welsh Affairs Committee dated 16 April 1998; the Welsh Affairs Committee responses dated 28 April and 14 May 1998 confirming that the Committee has the authority to look into the abuse of public funds in relation to medical negligence, but refused to do so; my recent letter to the Secretary of State for Wales dated 25 March 1999 and his reply dated 26 May [A-11]. I refer you also to the following documents in [A-8]—Western Mail [11/3/99] "MEDICAL LITIGATION PAYOUTS DOUBLE", my letter to the editor of the Western Mail [14/3/99], the subsequent Western Mail article, "THE HIGH COST OF A SECRETIVE NHS" [18/3/99] and Mr Powell's correspondence with the Welsh Affairs Committee [16/3/99 and 19/3/99].

HEALTH SERVICE OMBUDSMAN [HSC]

  Mr Powell has made many complaints to the HSC who refused to investigate some of the complaints because they were not within his jurisdiction, but quite clearly should have been. The HSC has also refused to investigate serious complaints, which involve, inter alia, the falsifying of medical records and breaches of the Code of Practice on Openness in the NHS, which were within his jursdiction. Although the HSC is independent of the NHS and Government he is not a deterrent as he very rarely, if at all, exercises his powers to fully investigate improprieties and breaches of procedures under the NHS complaint procedures. In 1993 Mr Powell's MP, Jonathan Evans, took exception to the HSC exercising his discretionary powers not to investigate one of Mr Powell's complaints, which the HSC initially rejected and then accepted to be within his jurisdiction. Mr Evans wrote to the Chairman of the Select Committee on the Parliamentary Ombudsman, Mr James Pawsey MP. Mr Evans was informed, inter alia, by Mr Pawsey that, "The question of principle raised is whether it is right for the Commissioner to have such discretion. I will ensure that this issue is considered in the Committee's deliberation on its forthcoming report." It has since been confirmed by the Select Commitee on Public Administration that no such deliberations took place and the HSC still has discretionary powers to refuse to investigate serious complaints which are paramount to public interest and accountability.

  The NHS Authorities, the Welsh Office and the Government have refused to fully address the above complaints, in the light of irrefutable evidence of dishonesty, abuse of power and cover-ups. I sincerely hope that the Health Committee will address these serious issues and make recommendations for legislation, which would prevent repetition of the blatant miscarriages of justice within the NHS, which are regularly taking place throughout Britain, without any mechanism for redress.

June 1999


 
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Prepared 27 July 1999