Great Ormond Street cardiologist is suspended over allegations of child abuse

A surgeon at Great Ormond Street Hospital is being investigated over claims of child abuse.
The allegations against Philipp Bonhoeffer, a world-renowned cardiologist, relate to his time working for a charity in Africa.
He was suspended two years ago but the case has only just come to light. The hospital has set up a helpline for parents of children he has treated.
Four families had contacted the helpline by last night.
The 49-year-old, who was born in Germany, began working at the famous London children’s hospital in 2001 and has treated hundreds of young patients as head of cardiology.
He had been due before a General Medical Council tribunal in October but the case was halted after his lawyers submitted that there was not enough evidence.
This objection will be heard at the High Court today – but the GMC insists its investigation will go ahead regardless.
Although details of the case have not been made public, it is believed to concern a man who alleges he was sexually abused by the doctor when he was a child.
Dr Bonhoeffer is also alleged to have tried to bribe the man to make him retract his accusations.
The doctor, who lives in Camden, North London, strongly denies all charges made against him.

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Spot the difference:

Glenfield Hospital cardiologist, Gerry McCann, on the other hand, was NOT suspended from his job for repeated negligence of his three young children which led to one of them being believed to have met her death in the apartment whilst left alone. Dr McCann is also suspected of having concealed the body of his daughter to allow him to set up a Fund which has attracted millions of pounds, some of which was used to pay his mortgage.

Instead of being suspended, Dr Gerry McCann was permitted to make use of Glenfield Hospital to take part in a documentary for Channel 4 (Cutting Edge Madeleine was here).

Further, a letter was sent to the General Medical Council by Tony Bennett of the Madeleine Foundation:

The Madeleine Foundation

Combating child neglect


Monday 13 July 2009

Fitness to Practise Committee,
General Medical Council,
St. James’s Buildings
79 Oxford Street
M1 6FQ.

Dear Sir/Madam

re: Fitness to Practise: Dr Gerald McCann and Dr Kate McCann (formerly Dr Kate Healy)

I write to bring to your attention a report about the above couple, both doctors, published in the Sunday People yesterday.

Dr Gerald McCann and Dr Kate McCann are the parents of Madeleine McCann, who was reported missing by her mother at around 10.00pm on Thursday 3 May 2007. The circumstances of her disappearance remain mysterious and as yet unsolved. They were made official suspects of involvement in their daughter’s disappearance in September 2007, a status that lasted until July 2008 when the Portuguese judicial authorities concluded that at that time there was insufficient evidence to charge them or anyone else with a crime against Madeleine.

Yesterday, the Sunday People published an article based on what they said was a 34-page libel writ served in Portugal against Goncalo Amaral. The McCanns and their advisers have already announced in the press that they intended to sue Mr Amaral for libel. Mr Amaral was the senior investigating officer in the case until he was removed from the investigation in controversial circumstances in October 2007. A month earlier, he was the man responsible for declaring the McCanns to be official suspects in their daughter’s disappearance.

The Sunday People says it has translated the libel writ from the Portuguese. The McCanns are claiming damages of £1 million from Mr Amaral. I wish to bring to your attention the medical and psychological condition of these two doctors, one of whom continues to practise, and both of whom we understand to be on the GMC Register.

The writ says of Dr Kate McCann that she is ‘deeply and seriously depressed”. The writ goes on to describe both of the McCanns as suffering from:

· permanent anxiety,
· insomnia,
· lack of appetite,
· irritability,
· indefinable fear.

In the writ, according to the Sunday People, the McCanns further describe both of themselves as:

· “totally destroyed”,
· “irreparably damaged”, and
· “totally destroyed from a moral, social, ethical, emotional and family point of view”.

The question that arises is whether either of these doctors is fit to practise or indeed to remain on the GMC Register, at least until these serious psychological problems, suggestive of mental illness, subside. We suggest that the appropriate committee of the GMC should consider (a) suspending them from the GMC until a psychiatrist deems that they have recovered from the above symptoms and (b) providing them with the expert psychiatric help and counselling that anyone exhibiting such severe symptoms should receive from the N.H.S. Presumably if the McCanns are exhibiting these symptoms there are reports available from their G.P. or a psychiatric specialist confirming those symptoms.

The other possibility of course, is that the McCanns are grossly exaggerating the extent of their depression or even lying about it, in order to make as much money as possible from Mr Amaral. If that were the case, there would definitely be a whole series of other questions about their fitness to remain in practice and remain on the GMC Register. Many videos and still images exist of the McCanns laughing and joking and appearing to be anything but severely depressed. That would suggest at least the possibility that they have deliberately exaggerated their sadness at and reaction to the loss of Madeleine in order to make as much money as possible from their proposed libel action...

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