Amid much of the controversy surrounding the case of Alfie Evans, the courts have made one thing very clear: he is receiving “world class” medical care at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital. This may be absolutely true, but no claim of this importance should be taken at face value. There is no doubt that in the U.K., the courts hold the opinions of medical professionals in extraordinarily high regard. So high, in fact, that it can create a blindness in the judiciary with regards to the personal wishes of legal guardians.
On the contrary, however, there are many who have disputed the care provided by medics at Alder Hey Hospital. The hospital has experienced a whole host of bad press over the years. But how much of this is true? We took a look at a few of the most notorious scandals.
1. 1988-1995: Alder Hey organs scandal:
This disturbing case involved the “unauthorized removal, retention, and disposal of human tissue, including children’s organs,” according to Wikipedia. It took place between the period 1988 to 1995. During this time, organs were retained in more than 2,000 pots and subsequently discovered at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital. The scandal was so severe that it led to the introduction of a piece of legislation, the Human Tissue Act 2004, which specified correct procedures on handling human tissue.
2. 2013: Family wins massive payout after daughter left brain damaged due to alleged medical negligence:
Ten-year-old Morgan Stocks was left severely brain damaged shortly after he birth due to the alleged failure of doctors. The family won a £7.5m payout which they say will go toward her life-long care. According to the Liverpool Echo:
“Morgan has been left with permanent physical and mental disabilities, including brain damage, cerebral palsy and epilepsy. Alder Hey has apologized to the family, expressing their regret and sympathy and hope that the settlement will support Morgan’s needs.”
Young Morgan Stocks was left disabled after suffering a brain haemorrhage as a baby in 2003.
3. 2014: The hospital is deemed as having “very worrying problems” in its operating theatres by a national watchdog:
According to the Guardian:
“Alder Hey in Liverpool failed to meet four of five national standards checked by inspectors from the Care Quality Commission (CQC) in December. There was a faulty emergency call alarm system, potential safety incidents, and “near misses” went unreported, while operations were cancelled because of staff shortages.”
4. 2017: Alder Hey bosses issue apology for the death of a 15-year-old girl after medication mix-up:
Robyn Ellson died in 2013 of Leukemia despite doctors giving her an 80% of survival when she was first admitted. Doctors made clinical errors that meant she was not receiving the correct medication given her complex condition.
The teen’s parents described the mistakes made in their daughter’s care as “terrifying.” According to the Liverpool Echo:
“After her death, it emerged how the teen, from Mold in Flintshire, suffered “toxic effects” from an oral chemotherapy treatment that clashed with Robyn’s dialysis for kidney failure and made her more and more unwell.”
5. 2018: Alder Hey forced to apologize after 11-year-old dies following routine hip operation:
Earlier this year, Alder Hey issued an apology after an 11-year-old girl passed away from complications related clinical errors following a routine hip operation. These grave errors included “ineffective communication together with the lack of ECG [electrcardiagram] monitoring of Joshua after the operation and then through to recovery was a missed opportunity,” Liverpool Coroner’s Court was told, as reported by the Liverpool Echo.
A spokesperson for the hospital said that a thorough the investigation into the incident “found that some aspects of the care we provided were not delivered to the high standards that we set for ourselves here at Alder Hey and for that we are deeply sorry.”
Now, of course, every hospital will have its fair share of historical medical controversies. But this is not an exhaustive list on Alder Hey, and certainly raises the question of whether or not Alfie is receiving “world class care.”
Earlier today, Tom Evans, the father of Alfie, issued a statement on the current situation, and also nodded to the “professionalism” of the staff at Alder Hey.
“Our lives have been turned upside down by the intense focus on Alfie and his situation,” he said outside the hospital. “Our little family along with Alder Hey has become the center of attention for many people around the world and it has meant we have not been able to live our lives as we would like.”
“We would now ask you to return to your everyday lives and allow myself, Kate and Alder Hey to form a relationship, build a bridge and walk across it,” Evans added, alluding to his current negotiations with Alder Hey staff on a possible transfer home for Alfie.
He added, “We also wish to thank Alder Hey staff at every level for their dignity and professionalism during what must be an incredibly difficult time for them too.”
“In Alfie’s interests we will work with his treating team on a plan that provides our boy with the dignity and comfort he needs,” Tom continued. “From this point onwards there will be no more statements issued, or interviews given. We hope you will respect this.”