18 Mar 2012

Doctor who prescribed Nurofen to baby with meningitis

Dr Godwin Duru, was working as a locum doctor in Barnet hospital in in north London in 2005, when the parents of nine-month-old Joshua Davis brought him in to A&E, believing him to be seriously ill.

Godwin Duru

Duru, himself from Barnet, examined the toddler, concluded that there was nothing serious about Joshua’s condition, and said he could be discharged with over-the-counter painkillers.

The grandparents of baby Joshua, Laura and Alan Davis, recalled the night their grandson took ill.

“[Duru] kept looking at his watch all the time. He just couldn’t wait to get out, to get home. And I think he said to just take Calpol and Nurofen and that was it really,” Mrs Davis said.

But when Joshua continued to deteriorate and began to vomit violently in the following hours later, his grandparents rushed him back to hospital, but he died shortly afterwards.

Duru had failed to examine a rash on Joshua that was a telltale sign of meningitis and septicaemia.

“It was too late by then, too late,” Mrs Davis said.

“[Duru] didn’t give him a chance. He didn’t even give him a blood test. He didn’t do anything.”

It was four years before Duru, originally from Nigeria, was summoned before the GMC’s fitness to practice panel in 2009.

The regulatory panel placed numerous conditions on his license to practice, amongst them to have a workplace supervisor and to inform his then employers, out-of-hours care provider Herts Urgent Care (HUC) that he had been brought before the panel.

Because Duru’s record was clean when he started working at HUC, bosses had no reason to check the status of his registration, and the doctor failed to tell them that he was now subject to restrictions and continued to work.

And while working in breach of the rules at an out-of-hours-clinic in early 2010, fresh allegations were made against Duru, the nature of which have yet to be disclosed by the GMC.

But they were serious enough for a disciplinary panel to suspend him whilst he is investigated.

When HUC was made aware about the fresh complaints, managers decided to look again at Duru’s registration. It was only then that they found the details of his disciplinary hearing some months earlier, after he had signed up with the service.

HUC medical director and GP, Tony Davies, said that after discovering Duru had failed to come clean about his fitness to practice hearing, the provider adopted a new policy of checking its 250 or so doctors’ registrations on a more frequent and rigorous basis.

He said: “I think we were fairly alarmed at the time that a GP who had worked for us, we had checked obviously initially that the GMC registration was fine, and then found subsequently that a hearing had taken place and there were restrictions on the practice.

“That someone continued to work for us and not inform us of the restrictions that were imposed and that led us to make some changes to our practice… to introduce regular checking of GMC registration, to make sure they are signing disclaimers to say there are no restrictions on their practice during the preceding month.”

He added: “I think [the onus] relies very heavily on the GP to let any future employer or service that they are going to work for, that they have had a hearing or some sort of restrictions or sanctions placed upon their practice.

“I have to say that at Herts Urgent Care, you would find very, very few who have not told us about restrictions or sanctions on their practice. So I think it’s a very small number. I would hope to think most GPs are trustworthy.”

The news that Duru had breached conditions handed down by the GMC and went on to receive fresh allegations about his clinical practice shocked baby Joshua’s grandparents.

They said that the failure to enforce the sanctions imposed on the doctor in 2009 had made rendered them pointless.

“[It’s] unbelievable. It’s a stab in the back really,” said Mrs Davis.

Mr Davis added: “What’s the point of us going through that rigmarole, so that he can just carry on doing what he was doing in the past? There’s no point is there? There’s got to be a better system in place that with stricter penalties. And good follow up.”