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EDITIONS
The Bristol heart babies Wednesday, 24 March, 1999, 13:36 GMT
Disgraced doctor loses appeal
13.01 24.03.99 roylance ac
Dr John Roylance has lost his appeal against the GMC ruling
A disgraced hospital chief has lost his legal bid to be re-instated to the medical register.

The Bristol Heart Babies
Dr John Roylance was struck off by the General Medical Council last year for his part in the Bristol heart babies scandal.

He had appealed to the Privy Council, claiming Sir Donald Irvine, president of the GMC, had been biased because his own grandson was suffering a heart condition at the time.

Sir Donald did not disclose his grandson's condition until 11 days after the hearings began, Dr Roylance's lawyers had said.

But on Wednesday Law Lords on the council's judicial committee said Sir Donald had acted with propriety and the GMC had been right to strike Dr Roylance off.

Ruling

Lord Slynn of Hadley, Lord Clyde, and Lord Hobhouse of Woodborough gave a unanimous judgement.

13.01 24.03.99 wisheart ac
Mr James Wisheart was also struck off
Lord Clyde delivered it. He said: "There were no grounds for questioning the propriety of the president of the GMC sitting on what was obviously an important inquiry as its chairman and no grounds for questioning his impartiality nor that of any member of the committee.

"There is nothing to show that the chairman was under any further emotional pressure on account of his grandchild.

"On the contrary, his recorded observations ... appear to have been measured, controlled and objective."

Disciplinary hearing

Dr Roylance had been chief executive of Bristol Royal Infirmary when Mr James Wisheart and Mr Janardhan Dhasmana performed complex heart surgery at the hospital.

13.01 24.03.99 dhasmana ac
Mr Janardhan Dhasmana was censured by the GMC
The inquiry examined 53 operations where 29 babies died and another four suffered brain damage.

Dr Roylance was struck off because he had allowed the surgeons to continue despite such poor success rates.

However, his lawyers argued to the appeal that because he was acting as an administrator rather than a doctor, he could not be not be punished by the GMC.

Duty both as a doctor and as an administrator

But the Law Lords rejected this claim. They said Dr Roylance had a duty to care for the sick in both roles.

"That duty did not disappear when he took on the appointment but continued to co-exist with it," they said.

"The idea of a gulf between the medical practitioners and the administration connected by some bridge over which appellant had passed 'from us to them' must be totally unacceptable if the interest of the patient is to remain paramount."

Dr Roylance was ordered to pay the costs of the appeal.

A public inquiry into events at the Bristol Royal Infirmary's heart unit is continuing.

It has a wider ranging remit than the GMC hearing and will examine many more operations performed by the shamed surgeons.

See also:

19 May 98 | P-Q
29 Jul 98 | The Bristol heart babies
15 Mar 99 | The Bristol heart babies
15 Mar 99 | The Bristol heart babies
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