Hackney teen given painkillers by A&E has brain tumour

12:23 24 December 2012

Olivia Wicks

Olivia Wicks


A schoolgirl was diagnosed with a life-threatening brain tumour – nearly five weeks after an A&E doctor told her she was only suffering from dehydration.

Olivia Wicks, 14, of Walsham Close, Stamford Hill, was on holiday at her aunt’s house in Bournemouth when she started suffering severe headaches and nausea.

On the night of July 28, her aunt was woken by her niece’s screams. “She was shouting: ‘Help me! Help me!’ with her head in her hands,” said Lisa Wicks, 41.

Following the advice of NHS Direct, Ms Wicks took her niece, then aged 13, to A&E at Royal Bournemouth Hospital.

But a nurse did not consider Olivia’s symptoms to be serious enough for her to be seen straight away, which meant that they had to wait six hours to see a doctor.

Olivia’s family claim she was not given a proper examination by a locum doctor, who prescribed Ibuprofen for dehydration and assured her aunt that a brain scan was unnecessary.

“I told the doctor my headaches aren’t normal but he just didn’t want to listen,” said Olivia. Over the next month, Olivia suffered from intermittent nausea, severe headaches and blurred vision. Her aunt took her to an optometrist, who found nothing wrong with her eyes.

In September, back in Hackney, Olivia collapsed on her first day back at the Skinners’ Academy, Manor House and was rushed to Homerton Hospital. After two hours of scans and tests, she was diagnosed with a brain tumour.

Her mother Rebekah Wicks, 34, said: “When they told me, I just broke down for an hour. I was in complete shock.”

Following her collapse – which her family claim would never have happened if she’d had prompter treatment – Olivia temporarily lost the ability to see clearly, walk or speak and had to be fed through a tube. She can now talk and walk again, but is still unable to see clearly out of her right eye and has to wear a patch.

Mother-of-four Rebekah Wicks, who had to stay overnight in hospital with her six-month-old baby during Olivia’s ordeal, described the experience as “devastating”.

A spokesman for the trust confirmed an officical complaint had been recieved and that a review was underway.

But he stressed it did “not suggest that there was any indication at the time for an immediate brain scan,” and added: “It was therefore reasonable to discharge her into the care of her GP.”

The Wicks family have now taken their complaint to the parliamentary and health service ombudsman.

Olivia’s tumour has shrunk following radiation treatment, and she is back at school part-time. Meanwhile, her mother is desperate to stop further misdiagnoses. She added: “If they did this to my daughter, how many other people could it happen to?”


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