GMC suspends 'flying doctor' after complaints by 70 patients

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A plastic surgeon accused of maiming scores of patients was suspended from the medical register yesterday while complaints against him are investigated. David Herbert, 62, nicknamed the "flying doctor" because of his speed in the operating theatre, is believed to have 70 complaints against him from former patients.

A plastic surgeon accused of maiming scores of patients was suspended from the medical register yesterday while complaints against him are investigated. David Herbert, 62, nicknamed the "flying doctor" because of his speed in the operating theatre, is believed to have 70 complaints against him from former patients.

He is the first doctor to be dealt with under the General Medical Council's new powers, which allow it to impose interim bans while complaints are being dealt with. Previously, some doctors continued practising for years while waiting for their cases to be investigated.

The council's new powers were approved in the wake of public outrage over the cases of two gynaecologists, Richard Neale, 52, and Rodney Ledward, 62, who were allowed to operate on women for years before being struck off, and of James Wisheart, 62, a heart surgeon struck off after 29 children died under his care in Bristol.

Ann Clwyd, the Labour MP for Cynon Valley, used parliamentary privilege earlier this year to attack Mr Herbert, saying that his colleagues had described him as "verging on the psychopathic".

Mr Herbert had left one patient close to death when she became infected after the operation and a number of women had to have corrective surgery after he had performed breast operations, the MP said.

Mr Herbert allegedly left a hospital in Nottingham in 1986 when staff refused to work for him, she said. But, despite the complaints, he had continued operating for the past 12 years.

Mr Herbert said that he had always done everything to achieve the "best possible result" for his patients.

He is a fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons and a co-founder of the British Association of Cosmetic Surgeons, and was working as a consultant at the private Cromwell Clinic in Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire.

The council also imposed interim conditions on Christopher Ingoldby, a surgeon from Yorkshire, for a period of 18 months.Peter Robson, a Wirral GP, had his medical practice restricted to tribunal work for 18 months.

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