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The BBC's James Westhead
"The GMC is also in the dock"
 real 28k

The BBC's Daniel Sandford
"Always maintained he is a competent and caring surgeon"
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Dr Ian Barclay, Medical Protection Society
"He has been and continues to be deeply regretful"
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Monday, 12 June, 2000, 09:11 GMT 10:11 UK
Surgeon faces botched ops charges
Richard Neale
Richard Neale: Accused of mistreating more than 70 women
A gynaecologist who practised for 14 years in the UK despite being struck off in Canada is appearing before the General Medical Council (GMC) accused of mistreating scores of female patients.

The hearing again calls into question the ability of the GMC to police the medical profession effectively.

Mr Neal would like to apologise once more and say how sorry he is to those patients who suffered post-operative complications

Dr Ian Barclay, Medical Protection Society
Mr Richard Neale is being sued by 60 women in Britain who claim they were left in pain - and in some cases with organ damage - following botched surgery.

The 52-year-old doctor is also under investigation by North Yorkshire Police after claims that he falsified his qualifications to work as a surgeon in this country. He has not been charged with any offence.

Mr Neale's case comes 10 days after the publication of a report into disgraced gynaecologist Rodney Ledward, who was struck off for bungling operations on 13 women.

Vivian Robinson QC, for the GMC, said at the start of Mr Neale's hearing: "We allege that these cases constitute clinical incompetence and professional negligence and, in one instance, appalling rudeness to a patient."

Many of the allegations before the GMC involve Mr Neale's alleged failure to act when complications set in during or after procedures such as hysterectomies, abortions and sterilisations.

In one case he is also alleged to have told a woman an NHS waiting list for her procedure was much longer than it was in a bid to persuade her to have the operation done privately.

The GMC has been accused of failing to respond to repeated concerns about Mr Neale's work before he was finally suspended from his duties last September.

It will also have to explain why it allowed Mr Neal to practise in the UK when he had been barred from practising in Canada in 1986 following the deaths of two patients.


Mr Neale issued an apology through his legal team on Monday shortly before the start of the hearing.

Dr Iain Barclay told the BBC: "Mr Neale would like to apologise once more and say how sorry he is to those patients who suffered post-operative complications.

"He has been and always continues to be deeply regretful for this."

Dr Barclay, of the Medical Protection Society, said Mr Neale was concerned about being tarred with the same brush as Mr Ledward and that the "GMC hearing will provide the opportunity for his clinical record to be fairly and accurately assessed".

Rodney Ledward
Rodney Ledward was accused of injuring hundreds of patients
The Neale case is a huge embarrassment for the GMC, and Health Secretary Alan Milburn is reported to be considering radical reform - including the possibility of forcing the council to have a majority of lay members.

Mr Neale worked for 10 years until 1995 at the Friarage Hospital in Northallerton, North Yorkshire, where he became head of maternity.

Among the complaints that will be investigated are two from women who say they were left childless after Mr Neale performed unnecessary hysterectomies.

Two other women have complained that they needed major reconstructive surgery after Mr Neale operated on their bladders.

When concerns about Mr Neale's conduct came to light, it is claimed the Friarage Hospital agreed to pay a 100,000 severance payment and provide a positive reference rather than go through a disciplinary procedure.

The consultant used his reference to obtain work as a locum in Leicester and the Isle of Wight. He also performed stints at the London Fertility Clinic and the private Portland Hospital in central London.

The hearing is expected to last 20 days - one of the longest in GMC history.

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See also:

01 Jun 00 | Health
Doctors lash 'out of touch' GMC
06 Jun 00 | Health
NHS 'must modernise'
04 Jun 00 | Health
Call for NHS shake-up
12 Jun 00 | Health
GMC on the ropes
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