Death of 14-Year-Old Girl Highlights Hospital Staff Recruitment Issue

A coroner has called for action to address a nationwide shortage of haematologists after the death of a 14-year-old girl with leukemia.

Katie Wilkins died when her therapy at Liverpool’s Alder Hey Children’s Hospital failed.

She had a massive bleed on the brain, but she was being treated by an oncologist rather than a haematologist.

Coroner Katie Ainge heard that employers were unable to hire the proper people due to nationwide recruiting issues.

She has subsequently written to Health Secretary Sajid Javid to draw attention to the flaws and to help avoid future fatalities.

Katie’s family, who live in Warrington, Cheshire, called the hospital’s mistakes “devastating.”

Katie was diagnosed with acute promyelocytic leukemia (APML) on July 26, 2020, according to the inquiry.

The tribunal was informed that Warrington Hospital doctors may have detected the uncommon form of cancer earlier.

She was subsequently transported to Alder Hey and given prescriptions as part of her treatment plan, but due to a breakdown in communication between the haematology and oncology departments, she did not get the therapy and died on July 31.

At Alder Hey, APML patients are handled by both haematology and oncology specialists, according to the inquiry.

Expert witness Dr. Cathy Farrelly, however, stated that an oncologist managing patients with the illness was nearly unheard of.

Alder Dr. Keenan, a haematologist in Hey, claimed he had expressed his own worries about the situation after Katie’s death.

Due to difficulties in finding haematologists, the trust kept the same arrangements in place, according to the coroner.

Both hospitals engaged in Katie’s treatment expressed regret and said that system reforms had been implemented.

“The evidence that we have listened to in court from the specialist consultants stating that our beloved daughter’s care should have been under the care of a haematologist, and that our beloved daughter would be here today if she had received that care is devastating,” her parents Jeanette Whitfield and Jonathan Wilkins said.

“As parents, we are furious, and we will continue to raise awareness about this issue so that future families do not have to go through what we have.”

Ms. Ainge, the coroner, has written a report on how to avoid future fatalities, which Mr. Javid must react to by July 21.

She voiced her dissatisfaction with the fact that oncology specialists continue to be the primary consultants at Alder Hey for the management of APML patients, as well as the recruiting challenges.

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