‘Epilepsy’ children wait for answers

Checks into the work of an epilepsy doctor accused of misdiagnosing children are moving too slowly, say parents. Annabelle Appleyard of Market Harborough, Leicestershire, was diagnosed with the condition at the age of one by consultant paediatrician Dr Andrew Holton of Leicester Royal Infirmary.

Dr Holton, 48, was suspended on full pay from his post in June after concerns were expressed about his treatment and diagnosis of epilepsy patients.

A case-by-case review has begun into 8,500 patients treated by him.

Annabelle’s parents, Rosalind and Vince Appleyard, are worried they may have to wait months for a brain scan.

They have taken their daughter off her medication after a second opinion but have been told they may face a 10-month wait for the 24-hour EEG brain scan.

Rosalind Appleyard said: “I’d just like to know if it’s epilepsy, autism or what it is and how to go about treating it.”

“Right now we are in limbo. We don’t know where we are or what’s the matter with her or how she can be treated.”

A spokesman for Leicester Royal Infirmary said the hospital is reviewing the cases as quickly as possible but is facing a shortage of resources.

There are only a small number of specialists in the country who can analyse results from the brain scans.

Dr Holton has denied any wrongdoing and has issued a statement saying he does not believe any child has been harmed.

In an earlier statement he said: “I have not been told of any case in which harm is alleged to have been suffered by the patient and I do not believe that there has been any such harm.”

Some results soon

Dr Holton has worked as the only consultant in paediatric neurology at the Leicester Royal Infirmary for the past 10 years.

A retired consultant from outside Leicestershire is starting a review of some of Dr Holton’s cases at the Leicester Royal Infirmary this week.

Alan Cole, medical director at the Leicester Royal Infirmary, said that some parents will soon be given the results of the consultant’s second opinion.

The Leicestershire Epilepsy Concern group, formed after doubts were raised about Dr Holton’s diagnoses and treatment, is upset the reviews are taking so long.

A group spokesman said members were concerned that not enough was being done to speed up the process.

Provided by ArmMed Media
Revision date: June 14, 2011
Last revised: by Janet A. Staessen, MD, PhD