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Last Updated: Wednesday, 1 March 2006, 18:33 GMT
Concern over IVF doctor's charges
Professor Ian Craft
Professor Craft denies serious professional misconduct
A controversial fertility doctor charged patients for procedures they did not want, need or get, the General Medical Council has heard.

Professor Ian Craft, director of the Harley Street-based London Gynaecology and Fertility Centre, stands accused of irresponsibly treating two patients.

He denies serious professional misconduct.

Professor Craft sparked controversy when he helped a 60-year-old woman become Britain's oldest new mother.

It is about a cavalier attitude of warning patients about the costs of certain procedures
Joanna Glynn QC

Liz Buttle from Wales gave birth to a son in 1997 after he treated her.

Joanna Glynn QC, representing two patients known as Ms B and Mrs K who were treated by the centre between 1998 and 2002, told the GMC's Fitness to Practice Panel that the case was about "sharp financial practice."

"It is about charging patients for things they did not want, did not need or did not get - such as the charging of 125 for a three-minute consultation at which Ms B will say that nothing of anything significance was spoken."

She said the case was also about poor consenting procedures and poor recording of information.

"It is about a cavalier attitude of warning patients about the costs of certain procedures," she added.

'Claims denied'

Childless Ms B of Teddington, south London, was 40 and desperate to have a baby when she first visited the Harley Street clinic, the GMC heard.

Mrs K was described as "simply an altruistic donator of her eggs" and was 25 when she first visited the clinic.

The GMC heard Professor Craft had either been directly involved in the women's treatment or was ultimately responsible for it as head of the clinic.

Ms B felt she had been pressurised into having expensive treatment that she could have got free on the NHS, the GMC panel heard.

It is claimed that Professor Craft told her, during a consultation in March 1998, that because she had endometriosis, there would be no point in having IVF without a laparoscopic procedure - key hole surgery to check whether her fallopian tubes were open.

'Extra charges'

However, it was only after she visited her GP that she discovered she could get the treatment on the NHS.

But the GMC heard how Professor Craft had told her it would be a risky procedure and that there were only two doctors in the country - one being himself - that could competently carry it out.

Ms Glynn said: "He told her there would be no point in having IVF treatment if another doctor caused serious damage in the procedure as it would seriously harm her chances of getting pregnant.

"Even though Ms B did not have the funds to pay for the procedure she felt Professor Craft had to do it because any other doctor would ruin her chance of having a baby."

Ms B was then charged an unexpected 2,375 for the procedure, Ms Glynn added.

She had set aside 2,500 for her total treatment.

'No warnings'

Soon after, it is claimed Professor Craft was "dishonest" and put "unwarranted pressure" on Ms B to pay for a three-minute consultation during which she stood in the office and was asked if she was okay.

Ms Glynn also claimed Ms B had been persuaded to have a procedure known as Intra Cytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI) which cost a further 1,200.

Mrs K contacted the clinic in late 2001 or early 2002 after spotting an advert for egg donors.

She claims she was not warned of the risks in egg donation and ovarian stimulation and that after treatment she was sent home from work because she was so bloated "she looked five months pregnant".

The hearing was adjourned until Friday.

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