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Hospital admits epilepsy errors

3 December, 2001

Management at the Leicester Royal Infirmary have admitted that a paediatric neurologist at the hospital misdiagnosed epilepsy or over-prescribed drugs in 170 children.

Dr Andrew Holton was suspended in May after after concern was raised over anti-epileptic drugs given to children diagnosed with the condition.

A report, by the Royal College of Paediatricians and Child Health, looked at Dr Holton's caseload and showed that concerns existed in the cases of 133 children, and possible concerns existing in 44 further cases.

Hospital Chief Executive Peter Reading said:

"The trust recognises the impact that this will have on parents and carers and we wish to extend our sincerest apologies and sympathy for the position they now find themselves in."

Speaking for the epilepsy charity British Epilepsy Association, its Chief Executive, Philip Lee, said:

“The findings in the report indicate a massive level of inappropriate diagnosis and treatment of children with epilepsy in Leicester. This is an appalling and totally unacceptable situation for the children affected and for their families.

"We share the natural and understandable anxieties and worries of the parents and children involved. We expect the Trust to do everything in its power to expedite the on going review and to fully involve and inform all those who might be affected.

"We also expect the hospital to provide appropriate support and counselling for the families before, during and after the review process.”.

He added:

“The difficulties in Leicester are extraordinary but none the less highlight a wider national problem of childhood epilepsy. There are simply not enough paediatric experts in the condition and only 62 paediatric neurologists in the whole country to care for an estimated 61,000 children with epilepsy.”