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Last Updated: Friday, 29 July 2005, 10:25 GMT 11:25 UK
Clark doctor queries GMC position
Professor David Southall
Professor Southall fears for the safety of children
A doctor disciplined over his role in the Sally Clark baby death case says the General Medical Council may not be best placed to deal with such cases.

Professor David Southall was suspended from child protection work for three years after accusing Mrs Clark's husband of killing their two boys.

He has called for a probe into the way the GMC examined his case - and that of Sir Roy Meadow, who was struck off.

Mrs Clark was jailed for life for murder, but later exonerated on appeal.

I don't think the GMC is necessarily the right way to adjucate on whether what we did was right or wrong
Professor David Southall

Professor Southall was found guilty of serious professional misconduct by the GMC.

He had contacted police to warn that them that in his opinion Mrs Clark's husband killed their two children after watching a television documentary about the case.

Sir Roy Meadow was also found guilty of serious professional misconduct for giving "erroneous" and "misleading" evidence during Mrs Clark's trial.

Cruel decision

He had estimated the odds of two children in a family such as the Clarks dying of natural causes were 73 million to one.

Experts said the true odds were closer to 200 to one.

Speaking to the BBC Today programme, Professor Southall refused to comment on the specifics of his case.

However, he called the decision to strike off Sir Roy "disproportionate and cruel".

He said the mistakes made by the legal team at the Clark trial were far greater than those which may have been made by Sir Roy.

He told the programme: "There needs to be perhaps further investigation into what happened with the two of us.

"I don't think the GMC, and the way it is structured is necessarily the right way to adjucate on whether what we did was right or wrong."

Difficult position

Professor Southall said the GMC was in a very difficult position with regard to child protection issues.

"They are bound by the Medical Act to hear every complaint that comes in.

"What is happening is that parents who have been possibly found to have been abusing their children by a court have then thought there is another way now that we can have the case re-heard, and that is to complain about the doctor."

Professor Southall also raised concerns that doctors might in future be reluctant to act if they have suspicions about a child being abused.

He supports legislation to make the reporting of such concerns mandatory.

In a statement, the GMC said: "The GMC exists to protect patients by dealing with doctors whose fitness to practise is in question.

"Any concerns about a doctors fitness to practise will be investigated by us, and we will take action to restrict or prohibit a doctor from practising where the doctors fitness to practise is found to be impaired if that is the best way to protect patients."

Filming parents

Professor Southall also defended the controversial practice he pioneered of secretly filming parents with their sick children in hospital as a way of "proving" that they were abusing their children.

"Lots of people did not like what we were doing, nursing staff, some doctors. They thought this was something that doctors did not do, it was a police activity.

"But actually it was a multi-disciplinary activity in my view. We needed the police, social services, nurses and doctors all working together."




SEE ALSO:
Clark doctor to face complaints
14 Apr 05 |  Staffordshire


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