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Tuesday, 13 June, 2000, 11:21 GMT 12:21 UK
James Elwood: Chronology
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Errors were made in interpreting cell samples
Freelance pathologist James Elwood, 78, made a number of serious mistakes in his work testing for cancer and other diseases while working at four hospitals. BBC News Online presents a chronology of how his errors came to light.


August 1994: Dr Elwood works on four occasions at Mid Sussex (Haywards Heath) between Aug 1994 and Feb 1995.

March 1997: Royal United Bath Hospital identifies during regular internal audits concerns about Dr Elwood's performance during his time working for them between 1995 and 1997.

Review started by Trust. In March 1997 a consultant histopathologist advises a colleague in Swindon of concerns about the standards of Dr Elwood's reporting.

May 1998: Dr Elwood continued to be employed by Swindon.

Swindon sent a letter to the NHS Executive seeking a variation order to extend his employment as a locum in May 1998, which was granted by DOH.

March 1999: Swindon and Marlborough NHS Trust starts review of 400 cervical biopsies following concerns within the Trust about reporting by Dr Elwood.

July 1999: Decision in Swindon to extend review to all specimens reported by Dr Elwood. The review covers the 22 occasions he worked for them from Feb 1995 to Feb 1999.

July 1999: Dr Elwood telephoned by Swindon Medical Director requesting that he provide employment history and confirmation in writing that he is not and will not be working while the review is underway, followed up by a letter from MD to Elwood.

July 1999: Royal United Bath Hospital alerts NHS Executive Regional Office that concerns were first identified during regular internal audits about Dr Elwood's performance during his time working for them between 1995 and 1997.

August 1999: GMC informed by Swindon of serious concerns about Dr Elwood's competence.

August 1999: Alert letters issued to all Regional Directors of Public Health asking for details of employment of Dr Elwood as a locum consultant in any hospitals in England and Wales.

August 1999: Deputy CMO writes to Royal College of Pathologists seeking their advice.

August 1999: Rep of Ireland confirms that Dr Elwood has worked as a locum for several summers in Tralee - a serious problem had already been identified a few weeks earlier.

September 1999: Dr Elwood replies to Swindon, but does not give employment details or assurances about not working.

October 1999: Mid Sussex (Haywards Heath) inform South Eastern NHS Regional Office (SERO) that Elwood worked there on four occasions between Aug 1994 and Feb 1995.

October 1999: Frimley Park alert SERO that Dr Elwood worked there once in Nov/Dec 1994.

November 1999: Employment details again requested from Dr Elwood.

December 1999: Regional Director for Public Health writes to GMC expressing serious concern that Dr Elwood will not provide details of his employment and undertook locum posts when he knew his practice was being reviewed.

January 2000: Royal College of Pathologists advise that as serious errors are being detected in Swindon a review is needed of his work in Frimley Park and Mid Sussex.

January 2000: Dr Elwood applies to the GMC for, and is granted, voluntary erasure from medical register.

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