Saturday, November 29, 2008

Britain: Negligent Muslim doctor sanctioned

Paediatrician who failed to detect Baby P's broken bones is suspended. Thank goodness someone is sanctioned over the matter

The doctor who failed to detect Baby P's injuries and concluded that he was just "cranky" two days before he died has been suspended from practising medicine. Yesterday the General Medical Council said that Dr Sabah al-Zayyat, a locum paediatrician who examined Baby P at St Ann's Hospital in London, had been suspended pending the outcome of an investigation into her conduct. Baby P died in Haringey, North London, after suffering months of appalling abuse in his family home.

The GMC had already placed temporary conditions on the registration of Dr al-Zayyat at a hearing in August 2008, which meant she could work only under supervision. But those conditions have now been upgraded to a full suspension. The GMC said it would hold a full public hearing if its investigation merited it. If it proceeds to that stage it can then either strike Dr al-Zayyat off the medical register, suspend her, put conditions on her registration or simply not impose any penalty.

Dr al-Zayyat, who qualified in Pakistan and worked in Saudi Arabia before coming to Britain in 2004, saw bruises to Baby P's body but decided not to carry out a full systemic examination because the boy was "miserable and cranky". A post-mortem examination revealed a broken back and ribs, and a host of previous injuries. "Our priority is to protect the public interest, including patient safety," the GMC said in a statement. "When an interim order has been imposed, we keep the details under close review. The Interim Orders Panel decided on Friday, 21 November to suspend Dr al-Zayyat's registration. Our investigations are continuing and it would be inappropriate to comment further at this stage."

Two social workers involved in the case are being investigated by the General Social Care Council. Maria Ward, Baby P's social worker, and Gillie Christou, her manager, face an investigation, which could result in both of them being struck off. The GSCC is "conducting preliminary inquiries into the actions of social workers in the case". Haringey Council is being investigated by HM Inspectorate of Constabulary, Ofsted and the Healthcare Commission, with their preliminary report due to be handed to ministers on Monday. Thousands of letters from the public calling for the resignation of the social workers involved in Baby P's case were taken to Downing Street yesterday, in advance of the report.

There was also anger among MPs and charities after Martin Narey, chief executive of Barnardo's, said that had he lived to become a teenager, Baby P might have turned into a "feral, parasitic yob". Mr Narey used the case to focus attention on the need to tackle causes of abuse. But charities and MPs said they were astounded by his "provocative" comments. Michele Elliott, chief executive of the children's charity Kidscape, told The Times: "Barnardo's seem to feel that by making these kind of comments that the public is going to support them. I find these comments extremely offensive in view of the fact that the child is dead."

David Laws, the Liberal Democrat children's spokesman, said the terms used by Mr Narey were unwise. "It would be better not to use such provocative language about this particular baby who has died," he said. "[He is trying to] throw some light on the circumstances in which thousands of young people in Britain grow up today, and the need to break these cycles of deprivation."

Camila Batmanghelidjh, the founder of Kids Company, a charity for young people in inner cities, said it was wrong to presume that all abused children went on to be abusive adults.


British bureaucrats trying to "get" NHS whistleblower

A nurse who exposed appalling neglect of the elderly at an NHS hospital began a fight to save her career today. Margaret Haywood, 58, faces a series of disciplinary charges over a secret film she made for a BBC Panorama programme. If a Nursing and Midwifery Council panel finds against her, she could be struck off the nursing register.

The veteran nurse was hired to help investigate concerns about the Royal Sussex County Hospital in Brighton. She and reporter Shabnam Grewal gathered evidence of failures to give even basic care to frightened and dying elderly patients. One was left to die alone while others spent hours in their own filth or with nothing to drink. Some were in agony from a lack of pain relief. After one shift Haywood said: 'I can honestly say it is the worst ward I have ever, ever worked on.'

The documentary ' Undercover Nurse', shown on BBC 1 in July 2005, sparked an investigation by Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust, which issued a public apology admitting 'serious lapses in the quality of care'.

The Central London hearing was told that Haywood admitted breaching confidentiality by passing contact details for patients and their families to programme makers. She told interviewers: 'That is a chance I am willing to take for things to improve. Hopefully I will not lose my registration. If I do, it is a small price to pay for things to get better.'

Haywood, from Liverpool, denies that her fitness to practice is impaired by reason of misconduct. She also denies an allegation that she raised concerns about patient care in the documentary instead of following 'whistleblowing' policy and reporting the issues to the Trust. Haywood further denies failing to assist colleagues when a patient was having a seizure.

Rachel Birks, for the NMC, said Haywood worked 28 shifts between November 2004 and April 2005 while secretly filming for Panorama. She said: 'She had not sought consent from the patients involved when she filmed them and the NMC's case is that from patient charts and records she would have been able to provide documentary makers with the contact details for patients and their families.'

The Royal Sussex County Hospital, which then had the lowest rating of zero stars and an œ8million deficit, had received a number of complaints before filming started. The panel heard a senior nurse deny that pensioners were victims of neglect. But Philip Kemp, a lead nurse in professional standards, admitted care was 'substandard' and that management knew patients were going without food or drink.


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