Delay in boy's treatment a tragedy, judges say: Health authorities criticised for failing to consult on closure of bone marrow unit
Friday 18 June 1993
But Lord Justice Kennedy told the parents of two-year-old Rhys Daniels, who challenged the closure after their son was denied treatment for a rare and fatal genetic disease, that he would not order the reopening of the unit or make a declaration that the authorities had acted unlawfully.
He also rejected the argument that the closure of the unit at the Westminster Children's Hospital in London on 1 April amounted to a breach of duty by Virginia Bottomley, the Secretary of State for Health.
However, Lord Justice Kennedy, sitting with Mr Justice Macpherson, admitted that uncertainty over the unit had been a 'tragedy' for Rhys as it had delayed his treatment for Batten's disease by at least eight months.
Afterwards, Rhys's father, Barry Daniels, 34, of Epping, Essex, said that the decision was a victory which would hopefully benefit children in a similar situation. It is hoped that Rhys will be given the bone marrow transplant within the next month at a Bristol hospital.
Doctors discovered that he had the disease - which leads to blindness, seizures and dementia - last year and put him at the top of the list for a transplant. Transplants are still experimental treatment for the disease, but are the only chance for Rhys who would otherwise die by the age of seven. The operation must be carried out before the victim shows symptoms, usually around the age of three.
Rhys was due for a transplant in February at the Westminster's bone marrow unit, but staff had begun to leave as they realised their future there looked doubtful, leaving too few to carry out his treatment.
The cloud over the unit's future was the result of an earlier decision to close the hospital and move the services, including bone marrow transplants, to the new Westminster and Chelsea Hospital in April.
But the viability of the unit came under scrutiny as it was not treating enough patients and the health authorities - Riverside and North West Thames - entered negotiations with Guy's hospital, the Hospital for Sick Children Great Ormond Street and Hammersmith and Fulham with a view to a merger.
However, the health authorities failed to consult Riverside Community Health Council, the body legally entrusted to oversee health-care provision, as they were statutorily obliged to do when varying services.
Lord Justice Kennedy said that even when the council got wind of what was happening and requested information it had difficulty obtaining a reply, then got a letter which was significant in 'failing to reveal the extent to which the unit had already been allowed to fade away'.
Mr Daniels said later: 'I think the judgment was excellent. The judge basically said that the closure was a shambles. He went along with us on all the points that we made.'
The judgment also said that, as the Secretary of State had suggested in evidence, the unit should be re-established in the London area, but a court order would not help in that.
Jonathan Street, for North West Thames, said the authority was still in negotiations with Great Ormond Street and Hammersmith and Fulham hospitals in the hope that the unit could be reopened.
Alan Meyer, the family's solicitor, said that the judgment was significant for the future of health-care provision as authorities would have to be more cautious when cutting services.
Law report, page 31
Lincoln MP Karl McCartney 'denied all knowledge' of the Twitter activity
- 1 Sean Abbott: Messages of support flood in for bowler following death of batsman Phil Hughes
- 2 Exodus Gods and Kings: Ridley Scott never considered casting 'Mohammad so-and-so from such-and-such' in lead role
- 3 This letter from a reader explains why women can’t play football
- 4 'You should come to my house and eat cheeses with me': 4-year-old sends adorable love letter to girl at school
- 5 Scientists predict green energy revolution after incredible new graphene discoveries
Black Friday 2014: Opening times for Asda, John Lewis, GAME, PC World and Argos
Miss Honduras Maria Jose Alvarado's stylist Luis Alfredo Garcia is found stabbed to death
Sean Abbott: Messages of support flood in for bowler following death of batsman Phil Hughes
Dr Lam Hoe Yeoh: Voyeur doctor jailed for eight years after using network of hidden cameras to film patients, colleagues and friends on the toilet
'You should come to my house and eat cheeses with me': 4-year-old sends adorable love letter to girl at school
Ukip says babies born to immigrants in the UK should be classed as migrants – which would include Nigel Farage’s own children
Rochester by-election: Ukip gains second MP as Tory defector Mark Reckless holds seat
'Beast of Bolsover' Dennis Skinner takes Ukip MP Mark Reckless to task moments after he is sworn in
The young are the new poor: Sharp increase in number of under-25s living in poverty, while over-65s are better off than ever
Tamir Rice: 12-year-old boy playing with fake gun dies after being shot by Ohio police
Rochester aftermath: Sacking of Emily Thornberry will make work of Labour MPs '10 times harder'
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: What do you want to do with your career? Do yo...
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This company is a leading expert in immunoassa...
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Development Scientist is required to join a ...
£25000 - £100000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join...