Inquest into baby death

An inquest is taking place today into the death of a seven-week-old baby, who died from pneumonia after being taken to a privately-run out-of-hours GP centre.

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GP: centre was not under abnormal pressure

Axel King died from pneumonia. Credit: Family handout.

GP David Lee, employed by Harmoni's out-of-hours service, told the inquest that staff at the centre were not under abnormal pressure when Axel was brought in.

When questioned over Harmoni's policies, he conceded the centre would send out urgent text messages to doctors requesting they step in to fill gaps in the rota..

The inquest was told how medics reportedly received messages such as "we are desperate for help" or "very urgent, we need to fill the rota"

Dr Lee said: "It may look like the language is inappropriate but they are very much part of the conversation which occurs between the rota teams and doctors with a view to bringing doctors on to shifts."

He said practitioners would sometimes be offered work at "higher pay grades" as an incentive to step in.

Meanwhile, he told the hearing he believed Dr Takhar was recruited from an agency but would have gone through a thorough interview process.

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Baby suffered cardiac arrest

The inquest has heard how Mrs Peanberg King first took Axel to see her own GP on the morning of October 31, when it was suggested he had a probable viral infection.

The next evening, after his condition had not improved, the family contacted the Harmoni centre and saw Dr Kuljeet Takhar.

He said that Axel's vital signs were good and his lungs were clear, suggesting the infection was probably viral, the inquest was told. But he gave them a prescription for antibiotics so they would not have to return if his condition changed.

The next day, a Friday, the child was still unwell but Mrs Peanberg King felt reassured because she had seen a doctor.

On the Saturday a "gut feeling" told her he should be seen again and they returned to Harmoni. Axel was seen by an off-duty paediatric nurse who raised the alarm and the child was taken from Mrs Peanberg King. She was later told he had gone into cardiac arrest.

Coroner: doctors face "worrying" tick-box culture

The coroner, Dr Radcliffe, told the inquest:

"We live in an age where there is an assumption that if it isn't written down, it isn't done, so we can have a situation where doctors do very little in their consultation but have perfect records".

She said: "We can have perfectly good consultations with doctors that cover the ground ... being no good on paper simply because they have not ticked every box which is worrying."

"Essentially GPs now, and most doctors, have to practice defensive medicine in that they have to write lengthy notes.....One would rather they were spending the time assessing individuals and communicating with the family."

Inquest hears that baby died from pneumonia

Axel's mother, Linda Peanberg King, told St Pancras Coroner's Court that she and her husband Alistair made contact with the Harmoni centre in the Whittington Hospital in Archway, after their son fell ill on the night of October 30 last year.

Five days later - after consulting at least three doctors - he died from bronchopneumonia.

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Coroner says GPs are hampered by paperwork

Axel Peanburg King with his mother Linda Peanburg King. Credit: Family Handout/PA Wire

A coroner, hearing an inquest into the death of a seven-week-old baby from Islington, has warned that doctors are forced to work in an age where a "worrying" onus is placed on ticking boxes.

Dr Shirley Radcliffe said GPs were obliged to practice "defensive medicine" where they are required to write lengthy notes on cases when "one would rather they were spending time assessing individuals and communicating with the family".

It came as she heard details of how seven-week-old Axel Peanberg King died from pneumonia after being taken to a privately-run out-of-hours GP centre.

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