GMC FTP Findings agianst David Southall

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GMC FTP Findings agianst David Southall

Post  Penny Mellor on Wed Apr 16, 2008 3:53 pm

Let's cut to the chase shall we PACA are leaving out vital information about the sanctions against Southall and seem to be condoning the following:



This case was considered by a Fitness to Practise Panel which applied the General Medical Council’s Preliminary Proceedings Committee and Professional Conduct Committee (Procedure) Rules 1988

Date of Fitness to Practise Panel Hearing: 13 November – 2 December 2006
5 November – 4 December 2007

Name of respondent doctor: SOUTHALL, D

Dr Southall:

The Panel has considered this case in accordance with the General Medical Council Preliminary Proceedings Committee and Professional Conduct Committee (Procedure) Rules 1988.

The Panel has heard that from 1982 you were a senior lecturer and subsequently a consultant paediatrician based at the Royal Brompton Hospital, London. From 1992 you were professor of paediatrics at the University of Keele and also a consultant paediatrician at the North Staffordshire Hospital, Stoke on Trent.


In March 1989 Dr D, a consultant paediatrician at Great Ormond Street Hospital, referred Child H to you for investigation and advice. In September 1989 and again in March 1990 Child H was admitted to the Royal Brompton Hospital where his breathing was monitored. In March 1990 you proposed to the parents a home monitoring and care regime. However, on about 22 March 1990 Child H’s parents informed you that they no longer wanted you to be involved in the management of Child H’s care.

On 22 March 1990 you wrote to Dr D to the effect that the parents were not acting in Child H’s best long term interests, that they liked the idea of him having a rare illness, that you were suspicious of their motives and that you viewed the long term prognosis with great concern. You copied and sent this letter to an unnamed Consultant Paediatrician at the Royal Gwent Hospital even though no one there was currently involved in Child H’s care or had been involved in the past. The letter contained sensitive and confidential information. Your action was inappropriate and in breach of the confidentiality owed by you to Child H and his parents.

In the General Medical Council’s Guidance, Professional Conduct and Discipline: Fitness to Practise (March 1989), which was in force at that time, paragraphs 79-82 cover the subject of professional confidence. It is a doctor’s duty, subject to the exceptions listed in Paragraph 81, to strictly observe the rule of professional secrecy by refraining from disclosing voluntarily to any third party information about a patient which he has learnt directly or indirectly in his professional capacity. None of the exceptions applied in this case because the letter was sent to an unidentified recipient.

In relation to Child D and Child H, you created, or caused to be created, an “S/C” File for each child wherein certain original medical hospital records relating to the children were then placed by you or on your behalf. These medical records are not elsewhere in the children’s hospital medical records. The placing of the original medical records in “S/C” Files damaged the integrity of the children’s hospital medical records and caused the items concerned to be inaccessible to others involved in the medical care of the children at that time or in the future.

You have a responsibility and duty as a doctor to ensure that medical records are readily available to colleagues as and when required. Failure to do so can result in serious consequences. Your action in this respect was not in the best interests of either Child D or Child H. It was inappropriate and an abuse of your professional position.

You treated Child H at the Royal Brompton Hospital, and there created an “S/C” file for the child. The “S/C” file contained original Royal Brompton Hospital medical records relating to Child H. When you moved to the North Staffordshire Hospital in 1992 you took, or caused to be taken from the Royal Brompton Hospital, the “S/C” File relating to Child H. Your action was not in the best interests of Child H. It was inappropriate and an abuse of your professional position.

The damage to the integrity to the child’s hospital medical records was compounded by transferring them to a hospital at which the child was not being and had not been treated.

The Panel takes a serious view of your conduct in relation to the “S/C” files over a considerable period of time.

In 2004 the Professional Conduct Committee (PCC) found you guilty of serious professional misconduct in relation to the ‘Clark case’ and placed a condition on your registration for a period of three years. The events in that case took place in 2000 and also concerned child protection issues. The Council for the Regulation of Health Care Professionals appealed the decision of the PCC. In his judgment given on 14 April 2005 Mr Justice Collins held that that the PCC’s decision to impose conditions was not unduly lenient but that the condition imposed was not sufficient to prevent any involvement by you in child protection work. Moreover, the PCC should have directed that a resumed hearing take place towards the end of the three year term. He substituted more tightly drawn conditions for that originally ordered. A Fitness to Practise Panel reviewed the case on 23 July 2007 and determined that you had complied with the conditions. It directed that the period of conditional registration should be extended for a further period of twelve months.

The events that gave rise to the Clark case occurred after the matters before this Panel. These events and the consequent finding of serious professional misconduct have been disregarded by this Panel when considering the question of serious professional misconduct before it.

In February 2007 the Attorney General set in hand a review of cases in which you had acted as a prosecution witness. This was with particular reference to the S/C Files. The report is yet to be published. The Panel has also heard that the South Wales police are investigating the treatment of Mrs H’s son.

The Panel has concluded that any police investigation and the Attorney General’s review are not relevant to its consideration of the question of serious professional misconduct, nor indeed to any sanction.

It has been accepted on your behalf that, in the light of the findings of fact there is evidence before the Panel from which it could conclude that you are guilty of serious professional misconduct.

The Panel has found that your conduct has fallen well below the standard expected of a registered medical practitioner in a number of respects. It therefore finds you guilty of serious professional misconduct.

The Panel next considered what action, if any, to take in relation to your registration.

The Panel has borne in mind throughout its deliberations that any sanction imposed must be proportionate and appropriate, and that the purpose of sanctions is not to be punitive, but to protect patients and the public interest. The public interest includes not only the protection of patients, but also the maintenance of public confidence in the profession and the declaring and upholding of proper standards of conduct and behaviour. The public interest can also include a doctor’s return to safe practice.

The Panel has balanced the public interest against your own interests. It has taken into account the Indicative Sanctions Guidance published by the General Medical Council. The Panel is aware that the question of what, if any, sanction to impose is a matter for the Panel, exercising its own independent judgment.

The Panel has given consideration to the submissions made by both Counsel. Mr Tyson, on behalf of the Complainants has submitted that the only appropriate sanction in this case is that of erasure. Mr Coonan, on your behalf, has submitted that an order placing tight restrictions on your registration would be sufficient.

The Panel is in no doubt that it is necessary to take action against your registration and that the sanction imposed must mark strong disapproval of your behaviour. Given the serious nature of your misconduct the Panel has determined that to conclude this case without making any direction in respect of your registration or to issue a reprimand would not be sufficient.

The Panel next considered whether it would be sufficient to impose conditions on your registration.

The Panel is aware that you are a paediatrician of international renown and that you have contributed significantly to the field of paediatrics and child protection.

The Panel recognises that your misconduct has arisen as a result of the child protection work that you were undertaking at that time and that your actions, although clearly misguided, may have been motivated by a concern to protect children. There is no evidence before the Panel to demonstrate that your actions have caused direct harm to patients or their families other than in cases involving child protection. Since your reinstatement in 2001, following suspension by your Trust, you have not worked in child protection. You have complied with the conditions to which your registration has been subject.

The Panel has been provided with testimonials indicating that you are held in high regard by your professional colleagues. The testimonials highlight your clinical skills and commitment to the welfare of children. They also indicate that you have undertaken important ground-breaking research, which has influenced how the medical care of babies and children has been managed both in the United Kingdom and internationally.

The Panel has heard oral evidence from Dr P, a consultant paediatrician at the University Hospital of North Staffordshire and from Dr B, a recently retired consultant paediatrician and Chairman of the Trustees of Child Health Advocacy International, a charity founded by you. Dr P has given evidence about your outstanding clinical ability and your compliance with the conditions currently on your registration. He also informed the Panel that numerous letters of support and thanks from your patients have been received. Both witnesses confirmed that they were aware of the findings of fact made by this Panel. Nevertheless they remain confident in your clinical abilities. The Panel has also considered carefully the evidence given by Dr E, Medical Director at the time, to the Professional Conduct Committee in August 2004 and her testimonial dated 16 November 2006. She holds in high regard your clinical skills and the contribution you have been making to the paediatric team at North Staffordshire Hospital.

The Panel has noted the determination of the Professional Conduct Committee in August 2004, the judgment of Mr Justice Collins in April 2005 and the determination of the Fitness to Practise Panel at the review in July 2007.

The panel has been mindful of Lord Bingham’s well known observation in the case of Bolton v The Law Society, adopted in the case of Dr Gupta, as noted in the Indicative Sanctions Guidance:-

“A profession’s most valuable asset is its collective reputation and the confidence which that inspires………The reputation of the profession is more important than the fortunes of an individual member……… Membership of a profession brings many benefits, but that is part of the price.”

The Panel also had in mind Lord Hoffman’s judgment in Bijl v General Medical Council [2002] Lloyds Med Rep 60, in which he said:-

“The Committee was rightly concerned with public confidence in the profession and its procedures for dealing with doctors who lapse from professional standards. But this should not be carried to the extent if feeling ot necessary to sacrifice the career of an otherwise competent and useful doctor who presents no danger to the public in order to satisfy a demand for blame and punishment……..”

Having considered all the evidence that is before it, the Panel accepts that were your registration to be restricted by tightly drawn conditions, patients would be unlikely to be at risk. However, in considering the maintenance of public confidence in the profession and the declaring and upholding of proper standards of conduct and behaviour the Panel has concluded that the imposition of conditions would not reflect the gravity of your misconduct. Your multiple failings over an extended period caused the Panel great concern. Furthermore, the Panel is influenced by the fact that, although the events in the current case predate those in the Clark case, there are now two instances where without justification you have accused a parent of murdering their child. The Panel has therefore determined that to impose conditions on your registration, no matter how tightly drawn, would not be sufficient to protect the public interest.

The Panel next considered whether a period of suspension would be appropriate. It has carefully balanced the public interest against your own interests. It has taken into account the aggravating features of this case and the mitigation that has been advanced by you. The Panel is particularly concerned by your lack of insight into the multiplicity of your failings over a long period. The Panel is aware that an apparent lack of remorse should not result in a higher sanction but it has noted that notwithstanding the findings of fact you have not either directly or through your counsel offered an apology to any of the Complainants for your actions nor has there has been any acknowledgement by you as to your failings.

In all the circumstances the Panel has concluded that you have deep seated attitudinal problems and that your misconduct is so serious that it is fundamentally incompatible with your continuing to be a registered medical practitioner.

The Panel therefore directs that your name be erased from the Medical Register.

The entire document can be read by clicking on the link below

Link to GMC Findings against Southall

_________________
The great enemy of the truth is very often not the lie -- deliberate, contrived and dishonest, but the myth, persistent, persuasive, and unrealistic. Belief in myths allows the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought. John F. Kennedy 35th president of US 1961-1963 (1917 - 1963)
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Penny Mellor

Posts : 57
Join date : 2008-04-11
Age : 56
Location : Staffordshire UK

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