The parents of a baby girl have been seriously let down by authorities in a 20-year cover-up following the death of their daughter, a government inquiry has found.
Elizabeth Dixon, Lizzie as she was known, died of asphyxiation in 2001 when her tracheostomy tube became blocked while she was being cared for at home by a private nurse.
A government inquiry into Lizzie’s death found that there had been “shocking and harrowing” mistakes in her care.
In his report, Dr Bill Kirkup was particularly damning in his assessment of those involved in Lizzie’s care, saying that some had been “persistently dishonest”.
He said: “There were failures of care by every organisation that looked after her, none of which was admitted at the time, nor properly investigated then or later. Instead, a cover-up began on the day that she died, propped up by denial and deception.”
The catalogue of failures began at Frimley Park Hospital in Surrey, where Lizzie was born. The hospital had failed to diagnose a tumour which probably led to Lizzie suffering brain damage, the report said.
There were then further errors by Great Ormond Street Hospital, who arranged Lizzie’s home care.
Dr Kirkup said that there was “clear evidence that some individuals have been persistently dishonest … and this extended to formal statements to police and regulatory bodies.”
Lizzie’s “profound disability and death could have been avoided”, said Dr Kirkup and called for an investigation by professional bodies, after a failed police investigation and a refusal by some health workers to give evidence to the inquiry.
Health minister, Nadine Dorries described a “harrowing and shocking series of mistakes associated with the care received by Elizabeth and a response to her death that was completely inadequate and at times inhumane.”
Lizzie’s parents welcomed the findings but said that further evidence of “wrong-doing” was not used by the inquiry.
Anne and Graeme Dixon, from Hampshire, said: “While we are pleased to see …. that some of the blatant lies, deception and cover-ups of mistakes and incompetence have been called out, we are disappointed that certain aspects of Lizzie’s care and the cover-up have not been addressed.”