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Doctor accused of covering up faked rugby injury is suspended by GMC

BMJ 2009; 339 doi: (Published 21 September 2009) Cite this as: BMJ 2009;339:b3873
  1. Clare Dyer
  1. 1BMJ

    A rugby match doctor who was accused of cutting a player’s lip with a scalpel to conceal the use of fake blood has been suspended by the General Medical Council, pending investigations.

    The suspension means that Wendy Chapman, an accident and emergency consultant at Maidstone Hospital, will not be allowed to work as a doctor while the UK medical regulator considers whether to press misconduct charges.

    Dr Chapman was a match doctor for Harlequins rugby club at its Heineken cup match with Leinster last April. Player Tom Williams later told a European Rugby Cup appeal committee that she cut his lip after the match at his request to conceal his use of a fake blood capsule during the match.

    He had left the field with blood streaming from his mouth to allow a specialist goal kicker to take his place.

    A disciplinary committee of the European Rugby Cup found Mr Williams and Harlequins guilty of misconduct and banned him from playing for 12 months but found the allegations against Dr Chapman and two other club officials, the director of rugby and the physiotherapist, not proved.

    Mr Williams appealed to a European Rugby Cup appeal committee and gave new evidence alleging that Dr Chapman, the club’s director of rugby, and the physiotherapist were involved in a cover-up. A cup disciplinary officer appealed against the decision to clear Dr Chapman and the other two officials.

    The appeal committee reduced the player’s suspension to four months and dismissed the appeal as far as Dr Chapman was concerned, citing “lack of jurisdiction” under the disciplinary rules. The director of rugby and the physiotherapist admitted involvement in the cover-up and were suspended from taking part in cup tournaments for, respectively, three years and two years.

    The GMC has now suspended Dr Chapman for 18 months, with reviews every six months. She could face a fitness to practise hearing after investigations, or the GMC could decide not to proceed against her and lift her suspension.

    Charles Dewhurst, the solicitor representing Dr Chapman at the Medical Defence Union, said, “I confirm that the GMC’s interim orders panel has made an interim order suspending Dr Chapman’s registration. This occurred after medical evidence was presented to the panel that Dr Chapman has been unwell for at least a year.

    “Dr Chapman has been off work for some time. and no resistance was offered on her behalf to the panel making an interim order.”


    Cite this as: BMJ 2009;339:b3873

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