| 10°C Belfast

Grieving parents of Claire Roberts found doctor Heather Steen to be dishonest at meeting, tribunal is told

Daughter Claire (9) died as a result of failings in her care at hospital

Close

Dr Heather Steen, who is facing a professional misconduct tribunal

Dr Heather Steen, who is facing a professional misconduct tribunal

Concerns: Alan Roberts did not want any more meetings with Dr Steen. Credit: Paul McErlane

Concerns: Alan Roberts did not want any more meetings with Dr Steen. Credit: Paul McErlane

/

Dr Heather Steen, who is facing a professional misconduct tribunal

A doctor accused of a cover up after the death of a child appeared dishonest and defensive during a meeting with her grieving parents, a fitness to practise tribunal has been told.

Alan Roberts has told the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service (MPTS) Dr Heather Steen gave the impression during a meeting to discuss concerns about their daughter’s care that fluids “did not contribute in any way” to her death.

He told the tribunal he and his wife Jennifer were so unhappy with their encounter with Dr Steen that they did not want any further meetings with her.

“Quite frankly we had heard enough from Dr Steen,” he said.

The MPTS is examining a raft of allegations about the conduct of Dr Steen following the death of nine-year-old Claire Roberts as a result of failings in her care at the Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children in 1996.

An inquest in 2019 found she died as a result of cerebral oedema due to hyponatraemia, as a result of fluid mismanagement in the hospital.

On Thursday, Dr Steen’s lawyer, Kevin McCartney, asked Mr Roberts whether it was the case “the door was always open” for he and his wife to meet with the paediatrician about their only daughter’s treatment and care.

Daily Headlines & Evening Telegraph Newsletter

Receive today's headlines directly to your inbox every morning and evening, with our free daily newsletter.

This field is required

Mr Roberts accepted this was the case.

Mr McCartney asked: “In light of that, would you accept that when you say you feel Dr Steen wasn’t being honest and she was defensive, would you agree that isn’t entirely fair and I would suggest she was trying to help because she was encouraging you to come forward with any further questions?”

Mr Roberts responded: “No, I would disagree with that assumption entirely.

“The impression that we got from that meeting with Dr Steen was that her answers were defensive and that she would not give us any sort of concession as to why Claire’s fluid mismanagement had contributed to her death.

“She was very defensive in her answers, I would stand by that statement.”

Mr Roberts also told the tribunal that, following Claire’s death, Dr Steen told him and his wife there was no need for an inquest.

“At that time, you put your trust in the doctor and you’re being guided by the doctor and Dr Steen was quite clearly telling my wife and I that there would be no need for an inquest,” he said.

“From our point of view, we were putting our trust and our guidance in Dr Steen, we never questioned Dr Steen’s diagnosis or her understanding of what had gone terribly wrong with Claire.”

Tom Forster, acting on behalf of the General Medical Council (GMC), asked Mr Roberts whether Dr Steen had told the couple during a meeting in December 2004 that “doctors had done anything wrong”.

Mr Roberts said: “We asked the question I think every parent will ask and that is, was everything done for Claire and could any more have been done?

“I think we asked that question of Dr Steen on several occasions and I think we got the same answer back each time that everything possible was done for Claire and nothing more could have been done.”

Mr Roberts also told the MPTS panel that during the first inquest into Claire’s death in 2006, Dr Steen “in her evidence to the coroner was quite clear that Claire’s fluid management was normal”.

Mr Forster asked: “Did Dr Steen inform the coroner about whether any errors had been made in Claire’s care?”

Mr Roberts replied: “No, she did not.”

The hearing continues.


Top Videos



Privacy