Vindication for Croydon doctor over children’s unnecessary operations

Croydon University Hospital

Croydon University Hospital. Pic: Croydon Health Services NHS Trust

A Croydon doctor who raised concerns over a mother making her children undergo unnecessary operations had her fears ignored.

Dr Susanna Hart, a paediatrician at Croydon University Hospital, warned specialists at other hospitals about the woman, who misled doctors saying her two children had stomach problems and were in need of surgery to fraudulently claim benefits.

Hart’s attempts to report this in 2010 were unsuccessful and it was three years before the 49-year-old woman was arrested and her children were taken into care.

The information came to light at the Croydon woman’s trial for fraud and child cruelty at Croydon Crown Court yesterday (August 15).

Judge Elizabeth Smaller, said that the female doctor who is now retired, found herself “inadequately supported, and as she says – rebuffed”.

She added: “Eminent though those doctors are and at the forefront medicine in their respective fields – with only one exception, what none of them did was pick up the phone and speak to Dr Hart.

“Dr Hart, viewing herself as merely a humble general paediatrician who deferred to those specialists, felt unsupported in 2010 and unable to bring about any intervention in this family.

“It is a matter of regret that such qualified and experienced medical professionals at world renowned hospitals did not maintain better channels of communication. However busy and knowledgeable they are in their field, they might all with hindsight have agreed that they could have learned much about this defendant from speaking to Dr Hart and each other.”

The mother of two, who can not be named for legal reasons, had lied about her relationship with the children’s father to receive income support of around £375,000.

She had also convinced the doctors that her children had a stomach condition making them feed from tubes.

Anne Longfield, the Children’s Commissioner for England said: “It’s hard to imagine how a mother could put greed before the health and well-being of her children in such a horrific way, resulting in them having highly invasive and unnecessary surgery.

“It’s vital that the serious case review now reveals how so many professionals could have been deceived by this woman for so long so that we can minimise the chance of this ever happening again.”

The mother was jailed for seven and a half years yesterday at Croydon Crown Court for fraud and child cruelty.

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