Surgeon hits back at bullies in the pressBMJ 1998; 317 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.317.7168.1326c (Published 07 November 1998) Cite this as: BMJ 1998;317:1326
- Susan Mayor
It is impossible to miss the less than flattering picture of doctors in today's media, with headlines such as “Doctor murder enquiry widens” and “Hospital errors killing hundreds of new babies” regularly appearing in national newspapers. But has the reporting become a witch hunt?
Paediatric surgeon Simon Huddart, aged 41, who is clinical director of paediatric surgery at the University Hospital of Wales, Cardiff, has just emerged from a six month battle to clear his name after the Express newspaper splashed a story over its front page accusing him of cancelling an NHS operation on a 21 month old baby and then offering to do it privately. He was awarded substantial damages for libel when the newspaper accepted that the story was untrue and apologised. His story illustrates several lessons in dealing with the media: the importance of having witnesses to refute false accusations made during difficult confrontations, that trusts should speak to doctors involved in disputes before making any comment to the press, that talking to newspapers directly can sometimes be helpful, and that doctors can hit back at …