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Tuesday, 25 July, 2000, 13:33 GMT 14:33 UK
GMC to ask for extra powers
The GMC must re-hear any cases held abroad
The General Medical Council has called on the government to give it extra powers in the light of the Richard Neale case.

Mr Neale was found guilty of serious professional misconduct by the GMC on Tuesday and has been struck off the medical register.

Richard Neale was found to have carried out unnecessary surgery on women, to have botched operations and to have carried out procedures without consent.

The case of Richard Neale is shocking and disturbing

Sir Donald Irvine, president, General Medical Council

He was allowed to work in the NHS for more than 15 years despite having been struck off in Canada after the death of two patients.

This is because the GMC cannot prevent a doctor from practising in the UK on the basis of a judgement by another regulatory body abroad. Under existing law, it must re-hear the case in the UK.

GMC president Sir Donald Irvine has written to Health Secretary Alan Milburn asking for it to be allowed to strike a doctor off if they have been banned from practising abroad.

"The case of Richard Neale is shocking and disturbing," said Sir Donald.

"I cannot defend the GMC procedures which 15 years ago failed by allowing Neale to practise in this country despite his record in Canada."

He said he had written to Mr Milburn asking for the loophole to be closed.

A Department of Health spokesman said officials would be working with the GMC on more reforms in light of the case.

"The old NHS lacked proper systems for protecting patients from misconduct and poor practice.

"We have taken and are taking concerted and thorough action to put these procedures in place to minimise the risk of similar cases happening in the future."


The chairman of the GMC committee, Professor Ken Hobbs, told Richard Neale that he his medical skills were below acceptable standards.

You are criticised for not acknowledging your mistakes and for failing to put them right

Prof Ken Hobbs, GMC

"Your diagnostic skills and clinical management of patients fell seriously below accepted standards," he said.

"The committee recognise that all operations carry a risk of complications and doctors have a duty to accept responsibility for these and to deal with them expeditiously.

"You are criticised for not acknowledging your mistakes and for failing to put them right."

Richard Neale had failed to obtain informed consent for operations and failed to give patients the appropriate information about further problems they were likely to suffer after surgery, Prof Hobbs said.

Richard Neale also failed to communicate properly with professional colleagues, provided false information to one patient encouraging her to undergo private treatment in a "deplorable" way, spoke rudely and aggressively to another patient and lied on his CV.

Prof Hobbs said: "The evidence you gave to this committee showed that you still failed to accept responsibility for the circumstances which led to loss of your licence to practise in Ontario, Canada.

"These actions were dishonest and displayed a lack of integrity.

"Your history of professional errors, failure to accept responsibility, and dishonesty leave the committee in no doubt that you are guilty of serious professional misconduct."

Richard Neale's registration was suspended with immediate effect. He will not be allowed to appeal the decision for five years and is unlikely to ever practise in the UK again.

Commenting on the case, Dr Mac Armstrong, Secretary of the British Medical Association, said: "The entire profession is extremely concerned that yet again a doctor's performance has been shown not to be of the very highest standard.

"The medical profession wants to see an open, fair and transparent regulation of doctors' performance and has been calling for change for a number of years.

"Doctors will be working with the GMC to ensure that their systems are robust and give the public confidence that they are being adequately protected.

"The recent cases of underperforming doctors will serve as landmarks to providing a much improved protection system and one that is fit for the 21st century."

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See also:

25 Jul 00 | Health
Disgraced surgeon struck off
20 Jul 00 | Health
Neale case puts spotlight on GMC
12 Jun 00 | Health
Richard Neale: The charges
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