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Baby P doctor will face misconduct hearing

GMC refuses doctor’s appeal to be taken off medical register

Adrian O'Dowd

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

The doctor accused of failing to identify signs that Baby P was being abused has had her application to be removed from the medical register refused.

Consultant paediatrician Dr Sabah Al-Zayyat is facing disciplinary action before the GMC over her care of the child Peter Connelly.

The 17-month-old child died in 2007 after being abused by his mother, her boyfriend and his brother, all of who were jailed in May of last year.

Dr Al-Zayyat examined the child two days before his death at a child development clinic at St Ann's Hospital in Tottenham, on August 1, 2007, when it is alleged that she missed his injuries.

She is accused of failing to carry out an “adequate examination”, investigate his injuries or admit him to hospital, and also accused of knowing Peter was on the child protection register.

Earlier this month Dr Al-Zayyat applied for voluntary erasure from the GMC’s medical register, which would have prevented the need for a full misconduct hearing.

However, this week, a GMC fitness to practise panel rejected the request.

The misconduct hearing, which began on October 11 is due to finish on November 5.

In its ruling letter, the GMC panel said: “The Panel is of the view that in a statutory scheme for dealing with doctors where impairment of fitness to practise is alleged, there is a public interest in ensuring that the complaints against Dr Al Zayyat are scrutinised fully in public, and to their conclusion.

It considers that it is in the public interest for the Panel to reach a formal decision on the allegation and announce its findings of fact in public, with reasons.

There is a significant public interest in the issues being aired and scrutinised in public and, given the Panel’s finding that Dr Al Zayyat’s lack of engagement in these proceedings so far is not a consequence of a genuine and involuntary incapacity to engage, it has concluded that the doctor’s interests are outweighed by the need to maintain public confidence both in the profession and in the GMC’s role as a regulatory body.”

Mary O'Rourke QC, acting for Dr Al-Zayyat, has told the GMC that she will go to the High Court to seek a judicial review of its decision not to allow voluntary erasure.

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