We must challenge ‘doctor knows best’ attitude, bereaved mother says


Merope Mills, an editor at the Guardian, has questioned doctors’ attitudes after her 13-year-old daughter Martha’s preventable death in hospital.

Martha had sustained a rare pancreatic trauma after falling off a bike on a family holiday, and spent weeks in a specialist unit where she developed sepsis.

An inquest concluded that her death was preventable, and the hospital apologised.

Ms Mills said her daughter would be alive today if doctors had not kept information from the parents about her condition, because they would have demanded a second opinion.

She added that doctors’ attitudes “reeked of misogyny”, citing a moment when her “anxiety” was used as an argument to not send critical care to Martha.

“Martha was warm, she was witty, she was bright and she was determined,” she said. “But above all, she had so much joy in the world.”

In a statement, Prof Clive Kay, chief executive of King’s College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust said he was “deeply sorry that we failed Martha when she needed us most”.

“Our focus now is on ensuring the specific learnings from her case are used to improve the care our teams provide – and that is what we are committed to doing.”

Listen to Merope Mills’ only broadcast interview on Woman’s Hour.

Read her Guardian article about the hospital errors that led to Martha’s death.