Boy died after tube blocked

A nine-year-old boy died during routine surgery after part of an anaesthetic tube became blocked with a cap while it was stored in a drawer, it was revealed today.

Tony Clowes, from Dagenham, Essex, died at Broomfield Hospital in Chelmsford during an operation to his finger following a bike accident.

During the operation in July last year the pipe providing him with oxygen and anaesthetic gases became blocked.

Today, as police said there was no evidence to show Tony's death was caused by criminal action, his mother Carol Clowes said the family's search for what happened was "back to the beginning".

The Chief Medical Officer, Sir Liam Donaldson, said today that "an angle piece" section of anaesthetic tubing should be used only once, but they were being washed and re-used.

In this case the angle piece was put into a drawer where it became blocked by a cap from intravenous equipment which was supposed to have been thrown away but had fallen inside the same drawer.

Researchers found the small plastic cap could easily worm its way into the angle piece and go unnoticed, he said, and announced that a top level group of experts would be set up to investigate how anaesthetic tubing could become blocked.

Operation Orcadian, which involved 30 police forces, looked into whether 13 incidents involving blocked anaesthetic tubes were linked.

Today Essex Police, which led the operation, concluded that: "A lengthy and detailed investigation has produced no evidence to show that the series of blockages was as the result of criminal conduct."

Mrs Clowes, 40, said: "We want to know the truth and all we want is to read all the witness statements from staff at Broomfield and the Crown Prosecution Service report to the police. Then we can make our own minds up.

"Someone has got to be accountable for it somewhere along the line and no-one is being accountable and I want to know why not.

"If it had of been one of Tony Blair's children, heads would have been rolling by now."

She said she would like a meeting with Broomfield Hospital managers to help find answers about Tony's death.

"We don't move on. I just take one day at a time," she said.

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