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Learning from Robbie Powell: New measures introduced

More than twenty years after the death of Robbie Powell from the Swansea valley, the health minister has revealed changes. Photo: ITV News Wales

The Health Minister made a statement today on measures that will be brought in following the investigation into the death of Robbie Powell which was published in July this year.

The 10-year-old died in 1990 of Addison's disease, a disease which is and was treatable. In the weeks leading to his death he was seen by five GPs on seven separate occasions but his condition had not been diagnosed.

Lesley Griffiths said she will introduce measures that will mean better communication between patients and their families, better management of medical records, more communication between doctors and better ways of dealing with complaints following the death of a child.

The four main areas of change that have been highlighted by the minister are:

  • Better communication and involvement with patients and their families
  • Accessing and managing medical records
  • Improving communication to ensure continuity of care
  • Dealing with concerns and complaints following the death of a patient.

The First Minister commissioned an independent investigation into the circumstances of the Robbie's death in 1990.

In the years since Robbie’s death there have been a number of investigations into the case. The aim of this independent investigation was to review the evidence and determine any lessons to be learnt to promote improvement.

The terms of reference were:

To consider, and, where appropriate, investigate the available evidence and information relating to the handling of the care and treatment of Robbie Powell, the circumstances surrounding his death (including the recording, provision and availability of patient information), and the resulting events, and to report to the Welsh Ministers, and make recommendations, taking into account current practice, legislation and guidance, as to any lessons to be learned for the promotion or improvement of the social well-being of Wales and the operation of the Welsh health service.

Will Powell, Robbie's father, has spoken to our Health Correspondent, Mariclare Carey-Jones and calls for a full inquiry after claiming the government's recommendations are 'just too weak'.

Commenting on the statement from the Welsh Government, Darren Millar AM, Shadow Minister for Health, said:

It is crucial that we learn the lessons from this dreadful tragedy, which took Robbie Powell’s life when he was just 10 years old.

Robbie was badly let down by a series of failings to diagnose a treatable medical condition.

I pay tribute to Robbie Powell’s family who have campaigned for the truth, which would help give them closure and ensure that such a preventable loss of life does not happen again.

It took 23 years and an independent inquiry to expose the truth about cover-ups in the aftermath of the Hillsborough disaster.

With so many unanswered questions surrounding Robbie’s case after more than 22 years, there is no doubt in my mind that we need a full and independent public inquiry to establish the truth once and for all.

– Darren Millar AM, Shadow Minister for Health

Addison’s disease is a rare disease. Most new cases appear between the ages of 20 and 60 years. It is a disorder whereby the adrenal glands fail.

The disease can be successfully treated by using medication to replace the absent hormones and as long as the medication is maintained, a full and normal life can be led.

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