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Two GPs accused of manslaughter after death of child with Addison’s disease

Two GPs have been accused of being ‘criminally at fault’ for the death of a 12-year-old boy from Addison’s disease, a court has heard.

Dr Joanne Rudling, 45, and Dr Lindsey Thomas, 42, are accused of manslaughter by negligence after schoolboy Ryan Morse died at his home.

A court heard Ryan had a series of appointments at the GPs’ village surgery after he was feeling ill – and his skin being so discoloured that his friends nicknamed him ‘teabag’. But a jury was told the two doctors showed ‘gross negligence’ for failing to properly respond to his symptoms from Addison’s disease.

Prosecutor John Price QC said one GP carried out a telephone consultation with his mother just 24 hours before he died.

Mr Price said: ‘The doctors should have visited Ryan at his home to personally examine him. Had that happened it would have confirmed the severity of the situation. They would have seen a very sick child in need of immediate attention.

‘Ryan was in fact dying. They could have called an ambulance. If they had done as they should, his life would have been saved.’

Three days before his death mum Carol, 54, was forced to pick him up from school early as he was ‘shaking’ after vomiting twice and complained of feeling ‘so ill’.

At home his temperature changed from ‘very cold’ to ‘burning’, and his mother was so concerned she slept with him in his bed until the following morning.

The next day Ryan was ‘delirious’ and ‘talking rubbish’ – and the court heard his worried mother rang Abernant Surgery in Gwent, Wales.

She was put in touch with Dr Thomas who after hearing his symptoms told the mother to ‘fetch him up’ to see her.

But the mother explained Ryan wasn’t ‘able to carry his own weight’ and she couldn’t carry him.

Dr Thomas later told an investigator from Aneurin Bevan Health Board after the boy’s death: ‘At no point did the mother ever ask me to visit him. But she said if he needed to be seen then she wouldn’t be able to bring him in because he felt too ill.’

Mr Price told the court: ‘As though this was a decision for the mother and not for her.’

Ryan’s mother – who has four other children – made another phone call later that day and spoke to Dr Rudling.

The court heard she ‘also ignored’ signs that the schoolboy was dying.

Ryan died at his family home in Brynithel, Abertillery, South Wales, on 8 December 2012. It was a week before he would have celebrated his 13th birthday.

Mr Price said the neglect was not that the doctors did not properly diagnose Ryan but that they did not recognise he was ‘a very sick child indeed’.

Mr Price said: ‘It is the conduct of each of the doctors in response to the mother’s telephone call on that Friday which lies at the heart of the accusation.

‘Each of them are criminally at fault for the death of Ryan Morse.

‘What the doctors should have done but failed to do was respond to the reports that the mother made to them about the condition of her child.’

The court heard Dr Rudling later made false entries into Ryan’s medical records two days after the boy’s death. She allegedly made the notes look like they had been entered on the day his mum rang in for a consultation.

She is also accused of incorrectly noting his genitals had ‘changed colour’ when in fact his mother Carol, 54, had specifically said they were ‘black’ in colour.

Dr Thomas, of Tredegar, Gwent, denies one count of manslaughter.

Dr Rudling, of Pontprennau, Cardiff, also denies manslaughter and trying to pervert the course of public justice.

The trial at Cardiff Crown Court, expected to last four weeks, continues.



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