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Schoolgirl with asthma died after being turned away from GP

Ellie-May Clark's family says their 'lives have been left shattered' following her death. Credit: Family photo

An inquest has heard how a five-year-old girl from Newport died after she was turned away from her GP for being late.

Ellie-May Clark, who suffered with asthma and her mother were five minutes late for the emergency appointment on January 25 in 2015.

The coroner said Ellie-May died of "natural causes where the opportunity to provide potentially life-saving treatment was missed."

From the evidence before me, it is not possible for me to determine with certainty whether an earlier intervention would have altered the outcome for Ellie, but nonetheless Ellie should have been seen by a GP that day and she was let down by the failures in the system.

– Gwent coroner Wendy James

Ellie-May's mother Shanice Clark had called the clinic for an emergency appointment after Ellie-May had been unable to walk home and was wheezing.

But Shanice said she was five minutes late for Ellie-May's five o'clock appointment and then had to wait in line to speak to the receptionist.

The inquest heard she reached the reception desk of The Grange Clinic in Newport between 5.10pm and 5.18pm.

But because the surgery had a "10 minute rule" for lateness, GP Dr Joanne Rowe told Shanice and Ellie-May to return the next day.

Ellie-May's condition worsened that night and she turned blue before being taken to hospital by ambulance.

She died in hospital - and it has taken more than three years for an inquest to be held into her death.

Ellie-May's family blamed "obvious neglect" for her death.

Her gran, Brandi Clark, said, "Ellie-May was the perfect child. She was happy and loving."

Today the coroner found that there had been grave failings in the care provided to Ellie-May. She was let down by the system.

Nevertheless we are disappointed that a finding of neglect was not reached as, in our opinion, this was a clear case of obvious neglect.

The family acknowledge an apology from Dr Rowe, especially as they have been waiting in excess of three years for an outcome and to receive answers to their questions.

– Family statement

Our thoughts remain with the family and friends of Ellie May.

It would be inappropriate for the Health Board to comment further at this particular time whilst we await the Coroner’s Report.

– Aneurin Bevan University Health Board spokesman