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Last Updated: Saturday, 8 December 2007, 17:06 GMT
Doctor's child protection warning
Dr David Southall
Dr David Southall has been struck off twice in three years
A former colleague of paediatrician Dr David Southall says in future doctors may avoid working in child protection because they fear losing their careers.

The General Medical Council (GMC) struck off Dr Southall last week for serious professional misconduct.

It heard he had accused a Shropshire woman of drugging and killing her 10-year-old son who had hanged himself.

Dr Martin Samuels, who works at North Staffordshire University Hospital, said child protection was not understood.

He added: "We believe (the GMC) are not understanding the dilemma which us paediatricians and other doctors deal with in child protection.

'Pushing doctors away'

"When the possibility of abuse or the diagnosis of abuse is discussed with parents this is inevitably going to cause upset and stress in the family."

He added: "The problem is that doctors have to be able to raise the issue of abuse, discuss it and will give opinions that abuse is occurring in certain circumstances when in some cases, subsequently, a court decides otherwise.

"Now if on every occasion that a doctor's view and opinion is then considered to be wrong, and that a doctor is then brought to task such as that they can lose their livelihood, this will have the effect of pushing doctors away from dealing with child abuse and wanting to discuss the possibility of abuse."

The GMC had heard Dr Southall accused Mandy Morris - whose 10-year-old son Lee hanged himself in 1996 - of murdering him.

Dr Southall had made the allegation in an interview with Mrs Morris about the safety of her surviving son.

Public inquiry call

The GMC also ruled that Dr Southall had acted inappropriately in some cases by keeping original medical documents on children in his care separate from their medical records.

Lawyers acting for the Attorney General are now examining thousands of these files amid concerns that they were not revealed during criminal proceedings.

Dr Southall has defended himself, saying he always put the interests of children first during his career.

In 2004, he was suspended from child protection work over his role in the case of Sally Clark, wrongly jailed over the death of her two sons.

Dr Southall had accused Mrs Clark's husband Steve of murdering the two boys on the basis of a television interview.

Another Shropshire woman, Janet Alexander, of Ludlow, has now called for a public inquiry into the actions of Dr Southall.

She claims the doctor wrongly accused her of poisoning her son and kept a secret medical file on him.

Mother calls for Southall inquiry
06 Dec 07 |  Shropshire
Profile: Dr David Southall
04 Dec 07 |  Health
Paediatrician 'abused position'
27 Nov 07 |  Health

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