Victims misdiagnosed by doctor paid £4m in compensation
The victims of a doctor who reduced children to “zombies” after misdiagnosing them have been paid more than £4m in compensation.
Dr Andrew Holton mistakenly declared more than 600 patients epileptic during one of the biggest cases of misdiagnosis in the history of the NHS.
Many of them were prescribed a debilitating cocktail of drugs when in fact they were only suffering from headaches or simply badly behaved.
In total, 105 pay-outs have been made to former patients of Dr Andrew Holton who were treated by him at Leicester Royal Infirmary between 1990 and 2001.
The amounts paid out have varied from sums of just a few thousand pounds to one of around £240,000.
Dr Holton was suspended in 2001 after a series of complaints dating back to 1995.
An inquiry found he had misdiagnosed 618 cases and put 500 children on the wrong doses of medication.
In January 2006 the General Medical Council’s Fitness to Practice Panel ruled that his professional performance was “seriously deficient”.
But he was later allowed to return to work with certain conditions – including one banning him from working with children – placed on his registration.
Dr Holton, now 56, misdiagnosed 618 youngsters while working as a paediatric neurologist, prescribing many a mix of anti-convulsant drugs.
Even his own colleagues raised concerns about his “individualist” methods as early as 1998, yet he was allowed to continue working in virtual isolation.
Only afterwards was it revealed he had no formal qualifications in paediatric neurology.
Parents said the medication caused their children to suffer side-effects, such as black-outs and drug-induced hazes.
Solicitor Jane Williams, from law firm Freeth Cartwright which has handled most of the compensation cases, said: “The families have been able to sit down round a table with three independent consultants and it takes as long as it needs to.
“Invariably, some parents feel guilty about what happened. With the panel, they get independent experts telling them it was not their fault.”
A total of £4.4m has been paid out since legal proceedings began in 2003. A further 89 compensation cases are expected to be decided by the end of next year.
An independent inquiry commissioned by the Department of Health criticised the hospital’s response and lack of effective management.
It found Dr Holton should have had extra training when he joined Leicester University Hospitals NHS Trust from Charring Cross Hospital, London.
Dr Holton now works as a consultant neurophysiologist at Leeds Teaching Hospitals Trust. A spokesman for the trust said: “Dr Holton does not feel it is appropriate for him to comment.”
Last night a Leicester hospitals spokeswoman said: “Our solicitors are working hard to fully co-operate with claimants so that all outstanding matters can be brought to a conclusion.”
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