Doctor 'faked blood tests to show vaccines had worked'

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A doctor who ran a private clinic offering single vaccines against measles, mumps and rubella deceived parents into believing their children had been protected from the diseases, a court heard yesterday.

A doctor who ran a private clinic offering single vaccines against measles, mumps and rubella deceived parents into believing their children had been protected from the diseases, a court heard yesterday.

David Pugh, 54, who ran the private Elstree-Aero Medical Centre, had offered the single jabs to parents worried about the safety of the triple MMR vaccine.

But when doubts were raised about their effectiveness he fiddled blood tests to prove to parents that the vaccines given at his clinic near Borehamwood, Herts, had worked, St Albans Crown Court heard.

Dr Pugh charged £70 per vaccination and his clinic was treating 250 children and had a turnover of £17,500 a week. He had a second clinic in Sheffield not linked to the case.

To meet the demand the Borehamwood clinic was preparing batches of vaccine in stoppered bottles, but concerns were raised about the way they were being prepared.

When the alarm was raised by another doctor and received publicity, worried parents called or visited the clinic to seek reassurance that their children were properly protected.

Ian Wade, for the prosecution, said: "You can imagine the alarm and concern for these parents. What happened was that parents besieged the Elstree clinic either by phone or personally so as to seek reassurance that their child had been fully immunised.

"You can imagine the stress and pressure that was placed on Dr Pugh and his team."

Dr Pugh offered parents free blood tests for their children but when the results, which were analysed by a London laboratory, came through he arranged for his staff to report the positive ones to parents while he dealt with the negative ones.

Mr Wade told the court that in eight cases Dr Pugh had "either tampered with, interfered with or falsified" the reports. It was the Crown's case that he had committed the offences because of the commercial pressures he was under.

He said that Dr Pugh had been interviewed twice by police and denied falsifying any reports, but accepted that the documents did appear to have been forged.

Dr Pugh had asserted that one of his members of staff might have been responsible and gave reasons why she might have taken such steps. He denies eight counts of forgery.

Susan Baker, one of dozens of parents who called the clinic, after watching a television report that raised concerns about the single vaccines, told the court that Dr Pugh had given her daughter Whitney a free blood test to show she was protected.

After the test she received a document showing Whitney had low level immunity to measles and two days later received a second document showing she was immune to rubella.

She told the court: "I still had a doubt. I didn't really think much of it. Being a doctor, I trusted him."

She eventually contacted the laboratory herself and then visited another clinic to discover her daughter was not immune from either disease.

Twins Ellie and Callum Hewitt and brothers Aidan and Ronan Ozdural, along with Lillie Canning and Benjamin Curtis, were all similarly affected.

Mr Wade said each of the families was given reports by the doctor to show the children were immune from measles, mumps or rubella.

But in each of the cases the child had either not passed the immunology test or there had been an insufficient sample to show a result, Mr Wade said.

The case continues.

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