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Friday, 18 August, 2000, 13:44 GMT 14:44 UK
Plastic surgeon suspended
GMC
The GMC has acted to suspend the surgeon
A cosmetic surgeon accused of botching surgery on dozens of women has been banned from working while an investigation takes place.

David Herbert generated a huge number of complaints from former patients to the General Medical Council.

Earlier this year, MP Ann Clwyd used Parliamentary privilege to attack him, describing him as a "psychopath" and saying it was "incredible" that he was still allowed to practise.

Now the GMC have acted, using for the first time powers which allow them to suspend a doctor's medical registration while an investigation into his or her competence is carried out.

Mr Herbert, a cosmetic surgeon, worked privately in Huntingdon, Preston and Nottingham.

Ms Clwyd said that he carried out as many as 35 surgical procedures a week, managing a facelift operation in as little as 40 minutes.

"A number of women have had to have corrective surgery after he performed breast surgery, and he performed a facelift without using enough anaesthetic.

'Gruesome'

"The dossier of evidence I have about him is as gruesome as it is long."

Mr Herbert is a fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons, and a co-founder of the British Association of Cosmetic Surgeons.

In a statement released following Ms Clwyd's attack, he said he had always done everything he could to achieve the "best possible result" for every one of his patients.

The GMC has come under attack in recent years over claims that it has failed to act swiftly enough to protect patients when a surgeon is suspected of poor performance.

In reality, it has only been recently allowed to suspend doctors whose performance is in question.

If the doctor works in the NHS, it is usual that they be sent home while the investigation is carried out. But this does not stop them working in the private sector.

Legal inconsistencies

A spokesman for the GMC said that it had acted to protect patients while the investigation was in progress.

She added: "This is the first time the GMC has been able to interim suspend a doctor who is under the performance procedures.

"This follows a change in the law after the GMC drew inconsistencies in the previous legislation to the attention of the Government.

"Previously the GMC could only take action to interim suspend a doctor in certain restricted circumstances."

The surgeon is allowed to appeal against the suspension, but go to the High Court if he wishes to do so.

See also:

01 Jun 00 | Health
Doctors lash 'out of touch' GMC
09 Feb 00 | Health
GMC promises radical reform
25 Jul 00 | Health
GMC to ask for extra powers
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