GMC must consider case against paediatricians who suspected parents of fabricating child's illness

BMJ 2006; 332 doi: (Published 11 May 2006) Cite this as: BMJ 2006;332:1110
  1. Clare Dyer, legal correspondent
  1. BMJ

    A couple suspected of fabricating their daughter's illness and threatened with having her taken into care have won a High Court ruling that the General Medical Council must reconsider their complaint against the two paediatricians who raised the concerns.

    The girl, now 15 years old, was eventually diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome. The local council agreed to withdraw the care proceedings and was ordered to pay the family's costs after an independent expert appointed by the court and the doctor treating the girl made the diagnosis.

    Her father, named only as Mr F to protect his daughter's identity, lodged a complaint with the GMC against the paediatricians, who were named in the High Court judgment as Dr A and Dr B.

    Mr F's complaint included an allegation that the doctors had changed their minds and accepted that chronic fatigue syndrome was the correct diagnosis but had not immediately informed the local authority or the court hearing the case.

    The charges were drawn up and the case went to the GMC's preliminary proceedings committee (PPC), but, in July 2004, that committee decided not to refer the case to the professional conduct committee and threw it out.

    Mr F sought a judicial review, arguing that the allegations were sufficient, if proved, to support a finding of serious professional misconduct. The GMC was willing to send the case back to the PPC, but the two doctors intervened as interested parties to oppose the application.

    Mr Justice Sullivan ruled that the committee had failed to deal with the allegations and should have made further inquiries. He said that the charges as formulated had raised a specific allegation that the doctors had engaged in deceitful conduct, which had to be dealt with in the committee's reasoning, and sent the case back to the committee.

    A spokesman for the GMC said, “We note the decision handed down by Mr Justice Sullivan. The case will be referred back to the PPC for consideration.”


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