Doctor on charges banned from work

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The Independent Online
A CONSULTANT gynaecologist was suspended for six months yesterday by the General Medical Council to "ensure public safety" after complaints from former patients.

Richard Neale, formerly head of maternity at the Friarage Hospital, in Northallerton, North Yorkshire, was given the interim suspension by the GMC's preliminary proceedings committee pending a full hearing. He will be charged with serious professional misconduct after accusations against him made by several patients are investigated, a spokesman for the GMC said.

About 60 women who claimed to have suffered in his care spoke out against him at a House of Commons Health Select Committee hearing held at Northallerton town hall in June.

Mr Neale, a consultant gynaecologist and obstetrician, came to Britain from Canada when his licence was revoked after a pregnant patient died in his care. He worked as head of the maternity unit at Friarage hospital in Northallerton, North Yorkshire, but left after complaints from colleagues and patients.

He continued to work both as a locum in Leicester and on the Isle of Wight, and for a private fertility clinic, and at the Portland Hospital in London.

Former patients of his from the Friarage hospital who had made complaints said recently that they could not believe he could continue practising elsewhere in the country. But yesterday's ruling means Mr Neale can no longer practice in the UK.

The GMC said there was no presumption of guilt. It has yet to set a date for the full public inquiry. Mr Neale said he was "extremely disappointed" by the committee's decision.

He added: "It is now crucial that the GMC convenes its professional conduct committee without further delay so that I can have the opportunity to defend myself against the allegations made about me."

Sheila Wright-Hogeland, and Carole Millward, who have co-founded a support group, Action and Support Group for Medical Victims of Richard Neale, of women who claimed to have suffered after being operated on by Mr Neale are both now suing the consultant for injuries.

Mrs Wright-Hogeland is suing Mr Neale after she had an emergency hysterectomy at Friarage hospital in Northallerton.

She had endometriosis, a condition that leads to thickening of the womb lining, and claims he failed to detect progress of the condition despite regular check-ups.

"He told me I was fit and well despite my increasing pain," she said. "After six years I was in agony and bleeding. He [Neale] then said it was the worst case he had seen."