Anaesthetist charged over patient's 'premature' death

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The Independent Online

Ann David, 46, a consultant in the intensive care unit at Basildon Hospital, is alleged to have brought the life of Robert Symons, 60, a milkman, to an end "earlier than would have occurred naturally".

Dr David was suspended from her job on full pay in 2000, after colleagues raised concerns about her performance. She was interviewed by police over claims that she was involved in the "mercy" killing of dozens of terminally ill patients, but the Crown Prosecution Service decided not to press charges in 2002. An investigation by the Royal College of Anaesthetists called in by the Basildon and Thurrock NHS Trust highlighted 45 cases, of which seven were investigated as samples. The cases - which did not include that of Mr Symons - were sent to the GMC, but the council initially decided not to press charges.

The GMC changed its mind after seeing an expert report prepared by solicitors for Edna, Mr Symons' widow.

Mr Symons had been rushed to the hospital after a toxic reaction on 22 January 1999. He was put on a ventilator when his condition worsened four days later, and died on 16 February, 20 minutes after being taken off the ventilator and given an injection of 20mg of a sedative drug that depresses breathing.

Experts are reported to have said that the combination of sedation and removal of ventilation shortened his life. But Dr David is understood to have been backed by another expert who said death was inevitable and the dose of sedative was modest.

She was sacked from her £90,000-a-year post in 2003, after being on full pay during the three-year suspension.

The case has been adjourned until next week.