Morecambe boy’s brush with death after diabetes blunder

Paul Woodhouse and son Owen Woodhouse, 14 who has diabetes
Paul Woodhouse and son Owen Woodhouse, 14 who has diabetes

A 14-year-old boy is lucky to be alive after his diabetes symptoms were not spotted by a GP surgery’s receptionist.

Owen Woodhouse was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes by Royal Lancaster Infirmary (RLI) doctors after he was rushed in by his parents.

And they were told he would probably not have survived the further two days until his scheduled GP appointment.

Owen’s mum Dawn rang Coastal Medical Group (CMG) in Morecambe after recognising her son’s symptoms.

She said: “He felt weak, he was going to the toilet a lot, he had lost his appetite and was losing weight. He lost a stone in five days.

“My mum had diabetes before she died so I knew the symptoms.

“They said we could have a routine appointment four days later.

“I said I thought it was diabetes but they didn’t class it as urgent.

“You shouldn’t turn a child away like that.”

When Owen’s condition worsened, Dawn called the emergency 111 line and was told to take her son to the Queen Victoria Hospital (QVH) in Morecambe.

From there, nurses told them to go straight to the RLI children’s ward for urgent treatment.

Dawn said: “Owen was assessed and put straight onto a drip. He was out of it – he can’t even remember being taken to hospital.

“His system was shutting down and they couldn’t find a vein to insert the drip because of a lack of insulin.

“A nurse on the children’s ward said he wouldn’t have survived if we had waited until the doctor’s appointment.”

Owen spent five days in hospital, initially on a high dependency ward, while his blood/sugar levels were monitored.

Morecambe High pupil Owen is now making a recovery, has gained weight and is learning to live with his condition.

He must inject himself with insulin up to five times a day for the rest of his life, and sees a dietician every week.

Dawn said: “That’s his life now but it’s better than us losing him.

“His school teachers have been fantastic – he can eat when he needs to and has a special pass for the dinner queue and the toilet.

“He has carried on playing sports – he just has to make sure his sugar levels are up.

“He has been very lucky.”

Dad Paul said: “I don’t want other parents to go through what we have been through.

“If it wasn’t for us taking him to hospital we might not have him here with us now.”

The family, who live in Hidings Court Lane, Morecambe, thanked all of the staff who helped them at the QVH and RLI.

Dawn said: “They were all absolutely wonderful and saved Owen’s life.”

Dawn said the family was told that in light of the incident, CMG would be reviewing the receptionists’ training in spotting the symptoms of diabetes.

A letter was also sent to the family apologising for what happened.

Coastal Medical Group said they were unable to comment due to patient confidentiality.


Type 1 diabetes is when little or no insulin is produced by the pancreas because of an autoimmune response that attacks the insulin producing beta cells. When insulin isn’t present, your body can’t convert sugar into energy, resulting in your body trying to flush out the excess sugar and because sugar can’t be used as energy, fat reserves are used instead. These create some or all of the symptoms below.

Extreme thirst

Frequent urination


An increased appetite

Unexpected and sudden weight loss

Sudden vision changes

Fruity odour on breath (ketotic breath)

Heavy or laboured breathing

Stupor or unconsciousness

Some or all of these symptoms may occur suddenly over days or weeks.

Anyone experiencing these symptoms should go to their doctor immediately. If left untreated, type 1 diabetes may be fatal.