Education And Debate

Personal paper: the scapegoating of a consultant orthopaedic surgeon

BMJ 1997; 314 doi: (Published 08 February 1997) Cite this as: BMJ 1997;314:435
  1. Dorothy H Crawford, professor of microbiologya
  1. a London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine London WC1E 7HT


    At 9 30 pm on 28 March 1995, Mr Anthony Percy, senior consultant orthopaedic surgeon at Queen Mary's Hospital NHS Trust, Sidcup, arrived home after a long day in the operating theatre. Two journalists appeared out of the darkness from behind his garden hedge. They snapped his astonished face, told him that he had been severely censured, and asked him if he was going to resign. The next day the Daily Mirror dubbed Mr Percy “Dr Dolittle.” So began a long and painful drama which threatened Mr Percy with the loss of his job and his reputation.

    The story began on the night of 6 March 1995 when Malcolm Murray was involved in a road traffic accident. He arrived at Queen Mary's Hospital unconscious and in urgent need of a bed in an intensive care unit in a hospital with specialist neurological facilities. No such bed was available locally or in the whole of the London area. Much frustrating telephoning followed. After contacting 20 neurosurgical units a bed was found at Leeds Infirmary. The patient eventually departed on a 200 mile journey in a helicopter at 6 30 am on 7 March. …

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