Scottish mother of tragic girl, 2, in plea for GP cancer training

A grieving mother who lost her two-year-old daughter to a rare cancer missed by six doctors is calling on the Scottish Government to urgently tailor the health system to meet the needs of children.

By Kevan Christie
Sunday, 10th March 2019, 8:13 am
Updated Sunday, 10th March 2019, 8:42 am
Megan Clarkson with her mother Kelly, who says the two-year-old's fatal symptoms were not taken seriously. Picture: SWNS
Megan Clarkson with her mother Kelly, who says the two-year-old's fatal symptoms were not taken seriously. Picture: SWNS

Kelly Clarkson wants recommendations made two years ago by the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH), which include funding for mandatory child health training for all general practice trainees, to be implemented.

Her daughter Megan died on 2 January, just three weeks after being diagnosed with type three Pleuropulmonary Blastoma – a rare and aggressive form of lung cancer found in children.

Clarkson, from Kirkcaldy, saw a total of six doctors and five nurses over a period of 28 months when Megan first developed a bad cough in September 2016.

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At one point the child’s respiratory rate increased to double the normal level, she began to lose weight and her chest was indrawing, which is known as subcostal recession – a sign of breathing difficulties. Clarkson says she was “fobbed off” numerous times by GPs at her local medical practice over a two-year period, with no recommendation of an X-ray.

She has met NHS Fife and her local MSP David Torrance, who is writing to Health Secretary Jeane Freeman on her behalf.

The State of Child Health: Scotland – Two Years On report released in January highlights key recommendations over which no progress has been made since 2016/17.

Clarkson said: “Having some child health training would allow GPs to support you more as they’d have a greater understanding.

“If you can’t understand how children’s health care works how are you going to manage to look through their symptoms and come up with a conclusion?”

Other recommendations in the report were that the views of children and young people be included in the patient surveys and that NHS Scotland provide every child and young person with a long-term condition with a named doctor or health professional.

Professor Steve Turner, RCPCH officer for Scotland, said: “It is clear that much improvement is needed to adequately tailor the health service to meet the needs of children, young people, their parents and carers.”

Public Health Minister Joe FitzPatrick said: “I would like to extend my condolences to Ms Clarkson. We know that a cancer diagnosis is devastating for a child and their family.

“We welcome the recognition from the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health that we are making good progress across a wide range of measures, and we want to go further.

“That’s why we are committed to improving children’s cancer services and are working hard to ensure health professionals have appropriate skills in child health and paediatrics. We are also launching a new National Hub for the Prevention of Child Deaths later this month.”