Graham Neale

BMJ 2013; 347 doi: (Published 03 December 2013) Cite this as: BMJ 2013;347:f6712
  1. Chris Mahony, London
  1. chris.mahony{at}

Early campaigner for clinical safety

Graham Neale alienated some colleagues by carrying his passion for clinical safety into the medicolegal sphere. An early and active supporter of the campaigning group Action against Medical Accidents (AvMA), Neale was still providing advice to solicitors in the last years of his life when affected by motor neurone disease.

In 1999, several years after retiring from the NHS, he was lead clinician in the UK Adverse Events pilot study, initiated by psychologist and fellow AvMA trustee Charles Vincent. Looking at clinical records from two London district general hospitals, Neale and his colleagues concluded in an article published in the BMJ in 2001 that “adverse events are a serious source of harm to patients and a large drain on NHS resources.”1 Vincent says of his former colleague, “He was one of the few doctors who took this sort of thing seriously—he had the passion and sheer decency to say, ‘this is wrong and we need to find out how many patients are being harmed’.”

Neale continued to devote much of his time to medicolegal work (with the fees he received mostly given to …

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