News

GP in Baby P case has conditions on his practice revoked

BMJ 2012; 345 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.e5123 (Published 26 July 2012) Cite this as: BMJ 2012;345:e5123
  1. Clare Dyer
  1. 1BMJ

The GP who failed to notice that the battered toddler Peter Connolly was being abused has been allowed to return to practice unconditionally after 2½ years’ suspension and 12 months working under stringent conditions.

Jerome Ikwueke saw Peter 14 times at his Tottenham, north London, practice between May 2006 and 26 July 2007, but missed signs of abuse, although he noted that on the last occasion the normally happy toddler was withdrawn and pulled away. Eight days later the child was dead.

The Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service (MPTS), which has taken over the role of General Medical Council fitness to practise panels, said Ikwueke had gone “above and beyond” what was required of him and revoked 18 conditions placed on his practice a year ago. The MPTS panel declared that his fitness to practise was no longer impaired.

The case of “Baby P” became a cause celebre because he had been seen so often by medical and social work professionals who had failed to communicate with each other or take action. His mother, her lover, and the lover’s brother are serving jail terms for causing or contributing to his death.

A paediatrician who saw him two days before he died, Sabah Al-Zayyat, also missed signs of abuse. The GMC took proceedings against her but she was allowed to remove herself voluntarily from the medical register on ill health grounds after becoming suicidal.1

By the time the conditions were imposed on him last July, Ikwueke had been out of practice for 2½ years, including 18 months’ suspension pending the original GMC hearing in July 2010, which ended with a sanction of 12 months’ suspension.2

The conditions included working only as a salaried GP in a group practice of three or more doctors, and doing no more than eight face to face clinical sessions a week. He had to keep a log of every case in which child protection issues arose and take it to the GMC every three months.3

Ikwueke, 65, told the MPTS panel that he acknowledged he had failed Peter and that there were things he should have done but did not. He admitted he had “some degree of naivety” at the time, and said his realisation of what went wrong had been “a slow and gradual process.”

He had introduced new child protection procedures at his practice, where he intended to return as senior partner, and was four months into a six month GP induction and refresher course, which went beyond what was required by the GMC.

The GMC argued that it was too soon to let him return to unrestricted practice but the panel disagreed.

It said, “The evidence before the panel indicates that you have gone above and beyond what was required of you and that you have been proactive in reviewing processes and setting up new systems to ensure that patient care is not compromised.”

Notes

Cite this as: BMJ 2012;345:e5123

References