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False allegations of fabricated illness ‘ripped family apart’

Campaigners are calling for an inquiry into concerns that families have been wrongly accused of inve..

Campaigners are calling for an inquiry into concerns that families have been wrongly accused of inventing or causing illnesses in their children.

Fabricated or Induced Illness (FII) is a rare form of abuse where parents exaggerate or cause their child's medical condition.

Families and charities claim there is a "wave of false allegations".

The Department of Health says that young people will always have symptoms checked by fully-trained staff.

The call is being led by Fiightback – a support group helping families across the UK who have been accused of FII.

Parents like Amy – not her real name – who was forced to live apart from her two-year-old daughter Lauren for almost a year, after she was accused of both inventing her child's illnesses and then poisoning her.

"I felt like my character was assassinated, my family was ripped apart and my child was stolen," she told 5 Live Investigates.

Amy's nightmare began after her daughter Lauren – not her real name – was rushed into hospital after becoming very ill with a suspected infection in February 2018.

It was not the first time Amy had taken her daughter to hospital.

When Lauren was just three months old, she started having spasms. Doctors prescribed anti-epilepsy medication.

She subsequently developed a number of other conditions – the most significant of which was reflux, which meant she had to be fed through a tube.

'Poisoned my daughter'

Fast forward to February 2018, and as Lauren recovered from her illness, doctors took her off the medications she was taking for her pre-existing conditions.

Amy says all Lauren's symptoms disappeared. Within a week she was a normal, healthy child, and was able to eat food.

Amy says the family concluded that side effects from the medication must have been causing her symptoms.

But doctors at the hospital took a different view.

They decided that the only possible explanation was that the symptoms had never existed in the first place – and Amy had invented them.

The hospital's child protection consultant said the illness which had led to Lauren being rushed into hospital had been caused by Amy administering a substance such as a laxative through her feeding tube.

"The consultant was telling me my daughter had never had any infection or illness – the only explanation was I had poisoned my daughter and nearly killed her," Amy says.

The hospital made a child protection referral stating they believed Lauren would be at risk if she was allowed home.

A court decided she should be placed in foster care.

After three months, Lauren was allowed to live with her father in separate accommodation to Amy and her other children. She could only see her daughter under supervision.

"Lauren was really confused about where her brothers and sisters were, where her home was. It's very difficult for a child to keep having to say goodbye when you push them into the arms of a stranger," says Amy.

The family launched a legal bid to get Lauren home.

Experts uncovered medical records which showed hospital staff and others had witnessed Lauren's spasms and vomiting – despite claims Amy had been making them up.

One expert said it was likely that Lauren had suffered from both reflux and adverse behavioural effects as a result of the anti-seizure medication.

But it was an independent report for the court which would prove crucial. It stated Lauren's illness must have been caused by an infection – and the chances of it being caused by a substance being put through her tube was remote.

The case against Amy was abandoned. Lauren came home – almost a year to the day after she had been rushed into hospital.

'False allegations'

Fiightback told 5 Live Investigates it now wants a review into the number of FII child protection investigations like Amy's, as well as the FII guidelines for medical and social work staff.

It also wants national and local policy on responses to accusations of FII to be looked at, and new standards set.

Carol Monaghan MP – who has led calls in Parliament to raise awareness of FII – said she would support an inquiry.

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I lost my arms and legs – stop it happening to others

A man who woke from a coma to discover both his arms and legs had been amputated and part of his fac..

A man who woke from a coma to discover both his arms and legs had been amputated and part of his face removed has called for mandatory training on sepsis for NHS staff.

Sepsis, or blood poisoning, is a serious complication of an infection, which can have devastating consequences if not treated quickly.

There were delays in spotting Tom Ray's sepsis.

He says a commitment is needed to avoid more tragedies.

Tom's story

Tom Ray was fit and healthy and living in Rutland in the East Midlands before he contracted sepsis at the age of 38 in 1999.

He had had a successful career in corporate banking and was in the process of setting up a business with his pregnant wife, Nic, when he fell ill.

His sepsis – thought to be caused by a cut to his gum during a trip to the dentist, combined with a chest infection – came on rapidly and led to vomiting and a high temperature.

But it took five hours at the hospital he was admitted to before the condition was diagnosed.

He spent months in a coma, during which time his wife Nic gave birth to their second child, Freddy.

His recovery has been a long and gruelling process, involving years of plastic surgery. (more…)

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Health

I lost my arms and legs – stop it happening to others

A man who woke from a coma to discover both his arms and legs had been amputated and part of his fac..

A man who woke from a coma to discover both his arms and legs had been amputated and part of his face removed has called for mandatory training on sepsis for NHS staff.

Sepsis, or blood poisoning, is a serious complication of an infection, which can have devastating consequences if not treated quickly.

There were delays in spotting Tom Ray's sepsis.

He says a commitment is needed to avoid more tragedies.

Tom's story

Tom Ray was fit and healthy and living in Rutland in the East Midlands before he contracted sepsis at the age of 38 in 1999.

He had had a successful career in corporate banking and was in the process of setting up a business with his pregnant wife, Nic, when he fell ill.

His sepsis – thought to be caused by a cut to his gum during a trip to the dentist, combined with a chest infection – came on rapidly and led to vomiting and a high temperature.

But it took five hours at the hospital he was admitted to before the condition was diagnosed.

He spent months in a coma, during which time his wife Nic gave birth to their second child, Freddy.

His recovery has been a long and gruelling process, involving years of plastic surgery. (more…)

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Health

NHS ‘should not prescribe acne drug’

The parents of young people who have killed themselves and patients unable to have sex are calling f..

The parents of young people who have killed themselves and patients unable to have sex are calling for the NHS to stop prescribing acne drug Roaccutane.

Ed Henthorn said it had caused him erectile dysfunction, psychosis and suicidal thoughts.

And one man who believes his son killed himself after taking the drug said the risks "are just too high".

Manufacturer Roche said "millions of patients worldwide have benefited from taking the drug".

The majority of those who take the drug have a positive experience.

'Pretty overwhelming'

"I used to think about girls… but my feelings, thoughts, just faded away," Ed Henthorn told the BBC's Victoria Derbyshire programme.

He was 19 when he took Roaccutane. He describes his acne as mild but bad enough to want to treat.

After three weeks he started to experience side-effects, including reduced energy and sex drive.

Then he experienced erectile dysfunction.

"That was why I decided to stop taking it," he said. (more…)

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