Surgeon reprimanded for aborting baby without consent

A surgeon who aborted a baby without the mother's consent during a hysterectomy was found guilty of serious professional misconduct yesterday by the General Medical Council.

Barbara Whiten, who is now 43, had not known she was 11 weeks pregnant when she arrived at the Kings Mill Hospital, near Mansfield in Nottinghamshire, for her operation in March 1993.

Reginald Dixon, a consultant gynaecologist and obstetrician, made the discovery while operating and chose to continue with the hysterectomy, removing Mrs Whiten's ovaries and terminating the pregnancy in the process.

The GMC's professional conduct committee gave the surgeon, who is now retired, a severe reprimand.

The committee, sitting in London, ruled that Mr Dixon, from Mansfield, should have stopped the operation when he found his 35-year-old patient may have been pregnant. The GMC found that Mr Dixon, 65, failed to provide appropriate supervision to his junior staff, and did not ensure Mrs Whiten understood the nature and purpose of her operation.

The surgeon also failed to ensure that Mrs Whiten, a college lecturer from the Mansfield area, had given her "informed consent", the GMC said.

In an earlier statement, Mrs Whiten, who has no children of her own, said she had wanted a family and could "never forgive" the surgeon for denying her this chance.She said: "The actions of Mr Dixon have blighted my life."

During the hearing, Mr Dixon had argued that Mrs Whiten had been "nervous" about the operation and had stressed she did not want to have to return to hospital for further surgery.