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Girl, 5, died of asthma attack after doctor refused to see her because she was late
Ellie-May Clark, 5, died of an asthma attack (Picture: PA)

A five-year-old girl died of an asthma attack after a doctor refused to see her because she was late to her appointment, an inquest heard today.

Little Ellie-May Clark, who suffered from ‘life-threatening asthma’, was taken to her surgery after falling ill at school.

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Mum Shanice Clark had called the clinic for an emergency appointment after Ellie-May had been unable to walk home and was wheezing.

But Shanice said she was five minutes late to Ellie-May’s 5pm appointment and then had to wait in line to speak to the receptionist.

An inquest heard she reached the reception desk of The Grange Clinic in Newport, South Wales between 5.10pm and 5.18pm.

COPY BY TOM BEDFORD Pictured: Undated handout picture of Ellie-May Clark Re: Inquest to be held at Newport Coroner's Court, into the death of five year old Ellie-May Clark who died of an asthma attack, after being refused a GP appointment in Newport, south Wales. Dr Joanne Rowe refused to see her, on the grounds that her mother was a few minutes late for a booked appointment. A few hours later, Ellie-May Clark suffered a seizure and died, despite the efforts of an ambulance crew.
The little girl was turned away from the doctors’ surgery after she was late for her appointment (Picture: Athena)

But because the surgery had a ’10 minute rule’ for lateness, GP Dr Joanne Rowe told Shanice and Ellie-May to return the next day.

After being turned away, the little girl was left in tears and asked her worried mother: ‘Why won’t the doctor see me, mummy?’

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That night Shanice put Ellie-May to bed and checked on her every ten to fifteen minutes, the inquest was told.

But at 10.30pm Shanice found her blue and flailing around on the floor before ringing 999.

Shanice said: ‘I tried to give her her pump but she wouldn’t let me.

COPY BY TOM BEDFORD Pictured: Dr Joanne Rowe leaves Newport Coroner's Court. Monday 26 February 2018 Re: Inquest held at Newport Coroner's Court, into the death of five year old Ellie-May Clark who died of an asthma attack, after being refused a GP appointment in Newport, south Wales. Dr Joanne Rowe refused to see her, on the grounds that her mother was a few minutes late for a booked appointment. A few hours later, Ellie-May Clark suffered a seizure and died, despite the efforts of an ambulance crew.
GP Dr Joanne Rowe turned her away without looking at her medical notes (Picture: Athena)

‘She fell off her bed onto the floor. I turned her light on and I saw her hands and her face were blue. That’s when I rang 999.’

Ellie-May was rushed to hospital on January 25 2015, but died before her mum arrived. Her cause of death was bronchial asthma.

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Her mother told the hearing that she had informed the surgery they may be late as she had to arrange last minute childcare and catch a bus.

Dr Rowe, who had no patients between 4.50pm and 5.20pm that day, refused to see Ellie-May and said for her to come back the next morning for the walk-in surgery.

COPY BY TOM BEDFORD Pictured: Shanice Clark arrives at Newport Coroner's Court. Monday 26 February 2018 Re: Inquest to be held at Newport Coroner's Court, into the death of five year old Ellie-May Clark who died of an asthma attack, after being refused a GP appointment in Newport, south Wales. Dr Joanne Rowe refused to see her, on the grounds that her mother was a few minutes late for a booked appointment. A few hours later, Ellie-May Clark suffered a seizure and died, despite the efforts of an ambulance crew.
Shanice Clark, Ellie-May’s, mother, arrives at the inquest today (Picture: Athena)

Giving evidence, Dr Rowe said receptionist Ann Jones rang her to say that Ellie-May had arrived but the GP had already called in her next patient.

Dr Rowe said: ‘She said that the girl had arrived late. She said I’ll tell her to come back tomorrow morning shall I and I said yes.’

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The inquest heard in March 2014 Dr Rowe had received a letter from a consultant saying Ellie-May was at risk of ‘life-threatening asthma’ but she did not write the information predominantly on the youngster’s file.

And on the day of her death Dr Rowe, who had been a GP for 22 years, had not even opened Ellie-May’s medical notes before turning her away.

Mrs Jones said it was the first time she had ever turned away an emergency appointment in four years at the surgery.

COPY BY TOM BEDFORD Pictured: Justin Chisnall (FRONT), reads a statement on behalf of the family of Shanice Clark (behind him wearing sunglasses) at the end of the inquest outside Newport Coroner's Court. Monday 26 February 2018 Re: Inquest held at Newport Coroner's Court, into the death of five year old Ellie-May Clark who died of an asthma attack, after being refused a GP appointment in Newport, south Wales. Dr Joanne Rowe refused to see her, on the grounds that her mother was a few minutes late for a booked appointment. A few hours later, Ellie-May Clark suffered a seizure and died, despite the efforts of an ambulance crew.
Ellie-May’s family gather outside Newport Coroner’s Court as their solicitor reads a statement (Picture: Athena)

She said: ‘Some particular doctors would adhere to the ten minute rule more than others.

‘This is the only occasion that I was ever challenged with it with an emergency appointment.’

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When asked if she felt uncomfortable turning away a child, Mrs Jones said: ‘I did because I was always taught that you should never turn away children and the elderly.’

The inquest heard Mrs Jones noticed it had been recorded that Ellie-May ‘did not attend’ the appointment – but the receptionist then made a note saying the youngster was late.

The hearing continues.

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