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A five-year-old girl died from an asthma attack just a few hours after Dr Joanne Rowe allegedly refused to see her because she was late for an emergency appointment.

Dr Rowe had been advised previously that Ellie-May Clark was at risk of a life-threatening seizure.

The death is currently being investigated by the Gwent coroner, after a leaked confidential report to The Mail on Sunday said that Dr Rowe failed to perform a clinical assessment on the little girl.

Ellie-May’s mother, Shanice, was told to return in the morning after Dr Rowe refused to see them. Ellie-May suffered an asthma attack in the night and died.

Dr Rowe was suspended for six months on full pay after Ellie-May’s death in January 2015.
The General Medical Council (GMC) and the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service held a disciplinary hearing in private, and the contents of the report would have remained secret if they hadn’t been leaked to the press.

The report states that reception staff were afraid of Dr Rowe who was known for “angry outbursts” and on the day Ellie-May was due to be seen it said reception staff rang through to Dr Rowe but that she shouted back “something like ‘No I’m not seeing her, she’s late’”.

Dr Rowe claimed that she was seeing another patient when Shanice and Ellie-May arrived minutes late for their appointment. Computer records from the surgery were checked by the health board and they showed the doctor did not see any patients between 16:55 and 17:20, after several cancellations that day.

Many of the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service hearings are held in private and rarely lead to a doctor being struck off.

Campaigners are calling for urgent reform of the system, which they believe puts patients at risk.

Sir Donald Irvine, a former president of the GMC, said: “The GMC is there to protect the public, not for the convenience of doctors”.

After her six-month suspension, Dr Rowe joined Cloughmore Surgery in Cardiff. She has declined to make any comment on the findings of the report.

Ellie-May’s grandmother told The Mail on Sunday: “We’ve never even had an apology from Dr Rowe, who got away with just a slap on the wrist after her clock-watching attitude killed our beautiful girl.”

“She has been allowed to get on with her life, get another job and forget about it. But we have been left with nothing but pain. Ellie-May has been denied the life she should have had”, she continued.

Charlie Massey, chief executive of the GMC, said: “We extend our deepest sympathy to the family for their loss. This doctor has a clear warning against her medical register entry, detailing the shortcomings in the care she provided.”

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