‘Give us answers over the death of our girl’

Dena Hale. PIC: Ross Parry
Dena Hale. PIC: Ross Parry
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The mother of an apparently healthy 10-year-old girl who went to bed and never woke up has spoken of her family’s grief and torment.

An inquest heard Dena Hale suffered an epileptic fit in her sleep at home in Altofts near Normanton in March last year.

Dena’s mother Debbie discovered she was cold and unresponsive on the morning of March 3.

Dena’s father Stephen and paramedics tried to revive her, but she was pronounced dead at Pinderfields Hospital, Wakefield, that morning.

The tragic youngster’s family are demanding answers after the inquest held in Wakefield heard that there had been a “missed opportunity” to diagnose the condition.

Speaking after the inquest, Debbie, 37, said: “We’ve been through hell since Dena died and we’re still going through it. We tried so many times to get answers – but no-one would listen to us.”

The inquest heard Dena had been to her GP surgery with slurred speech and pins and needles in August 2009 – where she was seen by a locum doctor.

The locum had written in her notes that he thought she had been dehydrated, adding “refer to specialist” – but the referral never happened.

The inquest heard her regular GP at the Newland surgery, Dr Ram Prasad Gupta, was also unable to understand a memo the locum had written on Dena’s notes – ‘CSOS’ – which another doctor had to translate as ‘See in an emergency’.

Speaking through their representative Mr Oliver Longstaff, Dena’s parents asked the GP why the locum’s notes had not been followed up.

Mr Longstaff asked Dr Gupta: “From his notes, do you believe the locum should do the referral or you?”

The GP answered: “He should.”

Mr Longstaff asked: “So if there was a suggestion that there should be a referral that was never followed up? And if he doesn’t then the suggestion just gets lost in the system?”

Dr Gupta said: “Yes.”

Coroner David Hinchliff also noted Dena had been seen by a specialist after visiting A&E At Pinderfields Hospital in January 2010 when her parents said she had suffered a fit.

Recording a verdict of death by natural causes caused by sudden and unexplained death in epilepsy, Mr Hinchliff said: “She was seen by her GP on more than one occasion I think that there were indications there that would have been appropriate for her to be referred to the appropriate clinicians with expertise both in paediatrics and epilepsy for her to have been reviewed and followed up.”

Mr Hinchliff added: “I’m troubled by the records of the GP, in particular when the locum doctor has made reference to a referral that did not happen.

“I would regard that as a missed opportunity.”

Switalskis Solicitors confirmed the family will be pursuing a claim for medical negligence in respect of the treatment received by Dena concerning her undiagnosed epileptic condition.

Cori Braham.

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