Why were lying GPs allowed to cover up our son’s death?
By Jane Feinman. Last updated at 12:10 AM on 19th May 2009
An astonishing 19-year fight for the truth – and how it exposes a horrifying hole in our legal system.
What makes this story so alarming is that it exposes just how impotent families are when faced with doctors determined to cover up mistakes...
When he [Will Powell] asked the senior partner to carry out an investigation into what had gone wrong [in the case of his 11-year old son’s death], the doctor refused point blank.
Shortly after Robbie’s death, Will had asked to see his son’s medical records - and, realising their significance, had them witnessed by a local vicar.
Seven months later, when he was formally served with the paperwork for the first inquiry into Robbie’s death by the West Glamorgan family health service authority, he was alarmed to discover the notes had been changed, and that at least one letter had disappeared.
Several years later, forensic tests carried out during an investigation by the Crown Prosecution Service, confirmed that some of the notes had been written at a much later date than the GPs claimed…
The GPs put up a notice in the surgery that claimed that Will’s allegations were ‘distortions and fantasy’ - resulting in one of Britain’s longest-running defamation trials, concluded in Will’s favour just four years ago. Over the next ten years, he contacted every official body he could think of to find out what had happened to his son, and then to find out why nobody would investigate the case.
Perhaps the most telling aspect of his epic campaign is that all this time, Will was being viewed as a troublemaker by the official bodies from which he sought help.
Under the Data Protection Act, he has found out that the Welsh Ombudsman called him ‘vindictive’, ‘an alley cat’, ‘a caveman’ and ‘bully’…
What looked like a breakthrough came ten years after Robbie died, in 2000, when an officer from West Midlands police, Detective Chief Inspector Bob Poole, brought in to review the case after intense lobbying by Will, uncovered evidence of gross negligence, forgery and conspiracy to pervert the course of justice by the GPs. His recommended charges for the GPs to answer ran to several pages…
The Crown Prosecution Service refused to press criminal charges on the grounds that the GPs had previously been assured they would not be prosecuted. The doctors also gained support from a High Court ruling that found they had no case to answer in civil law.
When Will took this to the Court of Appeal in 1997, Lord Justice Stuart-Smith made the landmark ruling that doctors had no legal obligation to truthfully explain the circumstances of a patient’s death to bereaved relatives.
‘GPs can put a gloss on the cause of death without fear of litigation,’ said a GP leader, Dr Brian Goss, at the time. In some cases, honesty can be rather hurtful...’
Will appealed to the European Court of Human Rights, but it also ruled that in Britain ‘doctors do not have to tell the truth or refrain from deliberately falsifying medical records’ - implying that they can falsify records without worry. Such a judgment seems incredible - yet the fact is, unlike doctors throughout Europe, there is no duty of candour for British doctors…
Until as recently as two weeks ago, the NHS Litigation Authority was still warning doctors that ‘care needs to be taken in the dissemination of explanations [of what went wrong] so as to avoid future litigation risks’…
Former King’s College surgeon Tony Giddings, chair of the Alliance For The Safety Of Patients, says the culture of denial is a hangover from ‘the dark ages of medicine when so little could be done and the habit of protecting professionals and their position arose because we didn’t know any better. We do now.
Source: Daily Mail
Discussions at the 3 arguidos: UK DOCTORS DO NOT HAVE TO TELL THE TRUTH
Pact of Silence
Hippocratic Oath - Keep Shctum !
THE HIPPOCRATIC OATH
I swear by Apollo the physician, by Æsculapius, Hygeia, and Panacea, and I take to witness all the gods, all the goddesses, to keep according to my ability and my judgement, the following Oath.
"To consider dear to me as my parents him who taught me this art; to live in common with him and if necessary to share my goods with him; to look upon his children as my own brothers, to teach them this art if they so desire without fee or written promise; to impart to my sons and the sons of the master who taught me and the disciples who have enrolled themselves and have agreed to the rules of the profession, but to these alone the precepts and the instruction. I will prescribe regimen for the good of my patients according to my ability and my judgement and never do harm to anyone. To please no one will I prescribe a deadly drug nor give advice which may cause his death. Nor will I give a woman a pessary to procure abortion. But I will preserve the purity of my life and my art. I will not cut for stone, even for patients in whom the disease is manifest; I will leave this operation to be performed by practitioners, specialists in this art. In every house where I come I will enter only for the good of my patients, keeping myself far from all intentional ill-doing and all seduction and especially from the pleasures of love with women or with men, be they free or slaves. All that may come to my knowledge in the exercise of my profession or in daily commerce with men, which ought not to be spread abroad, I will keep secret and will never reveal. If I keep this oath faithfully, may I enjoy my life and practice my art, respected by all men and in all times; but if I swerve from it or violate it, may the reverse be my lot."