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Monday, 19 November, 2001, 17:53 GMT
MMR maverick doctor cleared
Dr Mansfield jabbing child
Giving the single vaccine defied government advice
A doctor reported to the General Medical Council (GMC) after offering an alternative to the controversial MMR jab has been formally cleared.

The decision will be a boost to parents who insist that they should be given the right to a single measles vaccine for their children.

Dr Peter Mansfield, who has a private practice in Louth, Lincolnshire, allowed parents to opt for the single measles vaccine instead of the combined measles, mumps and rubella vaccine.

Disease fears

Some parents fear that the combined vaccine could harm their children - a small number of studies have suggested links with autism and bowel disease.

However, other, large-scale research studies have found no evidence of a link, and the vast majority of doctors support MMR.

Dr Mansfield's stance defied government advice that the MMR was the only vaccine which should be given, and earlier this year Worcestershire Health Authority reported him to the GMC.

The authority claimed that by offering the single jab, he was not acting in the best interests of his patients.

If found guilty of serious professional misconduct by the GMC, he could have been struck off.

However, on Monday, the GMC wrote to him to tell him the case had been dropped, without even reaching a hearing.


The case should never have been brought in the first place - it was preposterous

Dr Peter Mansfield
The letter said that even if the allegations had been proved, there would be no question of serious professional misconduct.

"There was no information to suggest that you carried out your treatments without the informed consent of either the parent or guardian of your patients.

'Relief'

It added: "You provide a choice for parents who wish their children to have three separate inoculations and for whom the preferred alternative to three separate inoculations would be not to have their children inoculated at all.

"In these circumstances it (the GMC committee) did not consider that your actions were inappropriate or against the patient's best interests."

The GMC effectively endorsed Dr Mansfield's approach.

A spokesman said: ""The committee advised the doctor that he should continue to give advice to patients about the full range of options for inoculations available in the light of the latest scientific evidence and the continuing debate."

Dr Mansfield told BBC News Online: "Clearly I'm relieved.

mansifelds
Peter Mansfield: Cleared
"The case should never have been brought in the first place - it was preposterous.

"There has to be a change in the attitudes of public health doctors to choice on the part of parents."

"Other doctors may have been holding back on the grounds that they were worried about being taken to the GMC - now they will start to come out of the woodwork.

He said that the number of parents coming forward for single jabs would also increase - especially if the vaccine for chickenpox was also added to the combined vaccine, as has been suggested.

"Then it will become a tidal wave of parents wanting single vaccines," he said.

No change

Ministers have become alarmed about a decline in recent years in uptake of the MMR jab - public health specialists say that a few areas may be vulnerable to outbreaks of measles, which in rare cases can be fatal.

Television advertising campaigns have attempted to woo wavering parents back to the officially-sanctioned vaccine.

A spokesman for the Department of Health said:"This will not lead to changes in policy on the MMR vaccine.

"We remain committed to the existing policy.

"We do not condone the use of separate vaccines.

"Based on the existing scientific evidence our view is that the triple MMR vaccine is the safest way to protect children against theset hree potentially serious diseases."

A spokesman for Worcestershire Health Authority said: "We are pleased to note that the committee are not endorsing the practice of giving single vaccine against the Chief Medical Officer's guidance.

"We are also pleased that Dr Mansfield has been advised that should he wish to continue this practice he should find better ways of communicating with local GPs and the health authority."

Dr Ian Bogle, chairman of the British Medical Association, welcomed the GMC decision.

He said: "We are pleased that the GMC has decided not to proceed with a professional misconduct hearing in the case of someone who is trying to do his best for patients according to his own beliefs.

"However, the BMA supports the evidence of the wisdom of continuing with the triple vaccine for MMR particularly because using single dose vaccines would leave children exposed to the risk of infection for longer periods."

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
Dr Peter Mansfeld
speaks of his relief at being cleared
See also:

17 Sep 01 | Health
Single jab doctor claims victory
06 Aug 01 | Health
Doctor faces ban over MMR
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