Page last updated at 11:30 GMT, Thursday, 8 May 2008 12:30 UK

Paediatrician's GMC case delayed

David Southall
David Southall has repeatedly attracted controversy

The General Medical Council has won a delay in a new investigation into the work of paediatrician David Southall to allow it to assess further evidence.

The hearing centres on trials conducted by Southall and colleagues of equipment designed to help infants having difficulty breathing.

It is claimed Southall failed to give accurate details when applying for permission for the trial.

Southall already faces being struck off the medical register pending appeal.

However, he can continue practicing until then.

Professor Southall was found guilty of serious professional misconduct last year after the GMC ruled he had inappropriately accused Mandy Morris of drugging and hanging her 10-year-old son.

But he had previously been banned from child protection work over his role in the case of Sally Clark, the barrister wrongly jailed for murdering her two children.

Southall telephoned police to suggest that Mrs Clark's husband, Steve, had killed the boys, based solely on watching a television interview with Mr Clark.

The current case, which will continue next Tuesday, dates back to 1991, when Southall and two colleagues - who also face GMC charges - oversaw research into a new technique for helping premature babies to breathe at the University Hospital of North Staffordshire.

Lowering air pressure

The technique, continuous negative extrathoracic pressure (CNEP), works by lowering air pressure around a baby's chest using specially designed tanks.

The theory was that it would provide a less invasive alternative to the method of ventilation via the windpipe.

However, the trial found that CNEP produced slightly higher rates of death and brain damage among the 122 babies on which it was tested.

The doctors have argued the death rate variations were not statistically significant and that the babies involved were already very seriously ill.

An inquiry by the Department of Health, published in 2000, concluded that while the trials complied with rules in force at the time, sufficient safeguards were not in place to fully protect parents and children.

The case has been adjourned to allow time for new statistical data, gathered on behalf of the Henshalls, to be considered.


SEE ALSO
'Why was my file kept secret?'
04 Dec 07 |  Health
Profile: Dr David Southall
04 Dec 07 |  Health

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