Andrew Wakefield – What happens next?

31 Jan

So Andrew Wakefield has been found proved guilty of the vast majority of the accusations against him and been found dishonest and acting irresponsibly with both the children under his ‘care’ and the not inconsiderable sums of public money he had occassion to recieve and ‘manage’.

None of this would have come as a surprise to anyone who had taken the time to carefully read Brian Deer’s thorough works on the subject. That it was a major shock to the John Stone’s and Martin Walker’s of this world tells you more about their capacity for self delusion than how shocking the findings regarding Wakefield were.

So whats next for Andrew Wakefield? Now that the official findings have been made public, the GMC must consider:

…whether those facts found proved or admitted, were insufficient to amount to a finding of serious professional misconduct. The Panel concluded that these findings, which include those of dishonesty and misleading conduct, would not be insufficient to support a finding of serious professional misconduct.

Yeah, pointless double speak aside (would not be insufficient??) the panel are basically saying that Andrew Wakefield’s behaviour could easily constitute serious professional misconduct.

So what can result from that? Brian Deer, writing in the Times Online provides a possible answer:

Lawyers have told me that any one of the more than 30 charges that were proved against Wakefield would typically lead to his being struck off. His days as a medical practitioner will soon be history…

And so what is the next step?

In the next session, commencing 7 April 2010, the Panel, under Rule 28, will hear evidence to be adduced and submissions from prosecution counsel then Dr Wakefield’s own counsel as to whether the facts as found proved do amount to
serious professional misconduct, and if so, what sanction, if any, should be imposed on his registration.

From April 7th then Andrew Wakefield will be fighting for the right to refer to himself and be referred to by others as ‘Doctor’. That will be a victory for anyone concerned with patient care in the UK.

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11 Responses to “Andrew Wakefield – What happens next?”

  1. Clay January 31, 2010 at 19:49 #

    Not enough to lose his license, his right to be called “Doctor”. He should be extradited back to UK, arrested, charged with everything they can throw at him, convicted and jailed. He did a lot of harm and profited from it.

  2. Laurentius Rex January 31, 2010 at 21:16 #

    He goes into hiding like Salman Rushdie to avoid the wrath of those he has betrayed?

  3. Gareth January 31, 2010 at 22:02 #

    What happens next?

    Now, with “Martyr” added to his long list of titles awarded by the hard of thinking, he carries on as before, earning more in a year than the rest of us earn in a lifetime.

    And all those clinics that charge an arm and a leg for snake-oil cures will continue as before.

  4. Hospital Doctor's Spouse January 31, 2010 at 22:46 #

    The “would not be insufficient” seems to reflect this being in some ways a bit like an evidentiary hearing in some legal systems. If there is not enough stuff “found proved” to make a charge of gross professional misconduct reasonably likely to stick, then obviously they don’t proceed to a misconduct hearing.

    Of course, it is rather more than an evidentiary hearing since they have not just looked at “case to answer” but ruled on the facts in the case.

    From what I know of doctors and their ways and rules I would agree with Brian Deer. Any charge of invasive investigations done without prior ethical approval and “against the patient’s best interests” is truly damning stuff for a doctor, and on minors (kids) with a limited capacity to understand even more so. I find it next to impossible to envisage any outcome other than all three being erased from the medical register (struck off).

    As far as I can see, Wakefield’s only obvious defence is to try and dump the other two in it, and claim he never made any of the clinical decisions. Of course, since the GMC have found “as proved” that he did, including ordering some of the tests, that one probably won’t fly, though I wouldn’t be surprised to hear his lawyers run it. A second version is to argue:

    “well I didn’t know enough about paeds to know that I shouldn’t sign the forms, which I only did as a proxy for the others when we couldn’t find them”.

    – but given the number of years Wakefield had spent in the medical and hospital system, I’m sure that would not wash either at a hearing.

    An interesting question is this; if Wakefield were found to be wholly unfit to be a doctor, and “a potential danger to the public if left on the doctors’ register” (a form of words that the GMC sometimes use) would that have any impact on his legal ability to be the Executive Director (CEO, in effect) of a clinic in the US?

    I doubt that the decision to strike him off (if that is the way it goes) will affect his standing among the fringe anti-vaccine groups and the biomedical underground; but is there any test in Texas on whether someone is a “fit and proper person” (in the British phrase) to operate that kind of medical business?

  5. Neil February 1, 2010 at 21:01 #

    He’s on the editorial board of “medical veritas”, refuge for AIDS denialiststs, anti-vaxers and other loonies. What strange company he keeps ..

  6. David N. Brown February 5, 2010 at 05:56 #

    “Thank goodness you will not be on a jury assessing his case due to your bias.”

    Dr. Treg,
    I consider you someone with whom I can discourse kindly and intelligently. I think Wakefield’s actions speak for themselves: He put “proving” a theory ahead of any other concern, including the actual validity of his evidence. I consider him in the same class as Charles Dawson, everyone’s prime suspect in the Piltdown Man hoax, except that his hoax endangered the public. About the only thing that can be done for this kind of person is to keep them from publishing or practicing in the future- something which the scientific community is in the practice of doing with or without formal charges.

  7. Joseph February 5, 2010 at 06:17 #

    If Wakefield is determined to have fabricated data (and let’s keep in mind that Brian Deer has been right so far about his claims regarding Wakefield) I suppose a case could be made that Wakefield should be charged with manslaughter or whatever its UK equivalent is. Of course, it’s a circumstantial case. You’d have to prove to reasonable standard that he’s directly responsible for measles-related deaths.

  8. Joseph February 5, 2010 at 22:57 #

    I would apologise to Dr Wakefield if I were you.

    LOL. I don’t think Wakefield is in a position to get into any fights. He lost to Brian Deer when he still had a semblance of reputation and credibility.

  9. Kev February 9, 2010 at 09:12 #

    All,

    Please do not speculate about Dr Wakefield’s legal future. Dr Treg is correct that such an action leaves me as the owner of LBRB legally viable, not you as the commenter.

    Comment on actions that have taken place or definitely will take place but comments on possible legal outcomes will have to be removed. Such is the state of the UK defamation system. I have had occassion to research this thoroughly and rightly or wrongly I wouldn’t stand a chance.

  10. laurentius rex February 9, 2010 at 09:49 #

    I think that is an over reaction to a non existant threat, but it’s your web site!

    I suggest you archive the posts and restore them at some later date when the outcome is known, then it will all be in hindsight 🙂

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