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Paediatrician welcomes GMC decision on child protection

5 May 2010

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A children’s doctor who convinced the Court of Appeal to overturn moves to strike him off has welcomed a decision to establish fresh guidance for doctors in child protection cases.

The General Medical Council (GMC) decision is “exciting”, said Dr David Southall, who claimed that child protection work is “almost dangerous” for doctors because they had to deal with “criminal” families.

The Court of Appeal overturned a decision to strike Dr Southall off the medical register over allegations that he accused a mother of murder. The paediatrician took his fight to the appeal court after the GMC struck him off, which was upheld by a High Court judge in 2009.

A local authority had asked Dr Southall to report on the safety of the surviving son of a woman in Shropshire but, in December 2007, a GMC panel found that what he had reported had added to the distress of the woman, whose 10-year-old son hanged himself in 1996.

The GMC’s announcement to create new guidance for child protection comes after an appeal ruling in Dr Southall’s favour by three judges last month. The court ruled that the GMC panel did not provide adequate reasons for the allegations against the paediatrician.

Dr Southall told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “The most exciting thing about what’s happened was that the GMC has now said it wants to set up a board to investigate this and to ensure guidelines are given to paediatricians about how they talk to families and at the same time, they (paediatricians) get support, because this work is not easy.

“It’s almost dangerous for doctors.”

Copyright © Press Association 2010

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