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Controversial allergy doctor is given formal warning by GMC

BMJ 2012; 344 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.e2993 (Published 25 April 2012) Cite this as: BMJ 2012;344:e2993
  1. Clare Dyer
  1. 1BMJ

A controversial allergy doctor has been given a formal warning by the General Medical Council after her fitness to practise was found to be “on the cusp of a finding of impairment.”

Jean Monro was found guilty of misconduct for practising beyond her competence and giving a patient inappropriate and potentially harmful chelation therapy for lead poisoning on the basis of a diagnosis that involved “inappropriate and ineffective” tests.

Monro, who qualified in 1960, saw the patient, “HB,” at Breakspear Hospital, a private day hospital in Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire, that specialises in environmental medicine and chronic fatigue disorders, where she has been medical director since 1988. HB was happy with his treatment and reported feeling better, but the GMC’s counsel, Jeremy Donne QC, argued that this was “no doubt due to placebo.”

HB’s GP filed a complaint with the GMC.

Donne told the panel that Monro’s conduct was representative of her practice in heavy metal toxicity and was reflected in the protocols of the hospital. “It is not a one-off mistake; this is the way she works,” he said.

But Evis Samupfonda, who chaired the panel, noted that the GMC had produced evidence about only one patient and added: “In the absence of evidence of other patients similarly treated, the panel is unable to extrapolate and to conclude that this is representative of your methods or your practice generally.”

Another important factor in Monro’s favour was that HB’s primary care trust had decided to fund the treatment after first deciding that HB’s lead levels were normal. After an appeal, the trust wrote, “Due to conflicting evidence on clinical effectiveness of this particular treatment, the panel have decided on this occasion to approve the request.”

Samupfonda said, “The decision by the PCT [primary care trust] to commit NHS funding for the treatment must, therefore, mitigate to a degree any criticism that would otherwise attach to your acting beyond your competence and the other findings of fact determined by this panel.”

The panel also took into account that Monro produced some evidence supporting her views, that she had been a doctor for more than 50 years without any previous GMC findings against her, and that she had freely undertaken not to carry out chelation therapy in future or to do the ineffective urine tests again.

The formal warning, which will remain on the list of registered medical practitioners for five years, tells Monro that if she carries out the treatment or does the tests the GMC could take further action against her.

Notes

Cite this as: BMJ 2012;344:e2993