Doctor who killed patient on operating table escapes jail

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The Independent Online

A surgeon who admitted killing a patient during an operation walked free from the Old Bailey yesterday after a judge gave him a suspended prison sentence.

A surgeon who admitted killing a patient during an operation walked free from the Old Bailey yesterday after a judge gave him a suspended prison sentence.

Steven Walker, 47, admitted the manslaughter of Dorothy McPhee. The 71-year-old patient bled to death during a liver operation at Blackpool Victoria Hospital in 1995.

Her daughter Elaine Knott said yesterday that Walker had got away "scot-free" after he was given a 21-month jail sentence suspended for two years. Judge Sir Stephen Mitchell said that the hospital had not done enough to stop him operating.

Two other manslaughter charges - related to the deaths following operations of Jean Robinson, 66, in 1995, and Margaret Wilson, 63, in 1998 - were dropped.

Walker was struck off the medical register by the General Medical Council in 2001 after he was found guilty of serious professional misconduct during 10 operations which left four dead and others maimed. Sir Stephen said there had been "lamentable systemic failure" which had allowed Walker to continue operating between 1995 and the end of 1998. He said: "The hospital trust failed to act with the vigour that the public is entitled to expect."

Walker was a decent man but could not see his own limitations, he said.

Mrs Wilson's widower Eddie Wilson, 68, of Thornton, near Blackpool, said: "It's a public disgrace. For the judge to take this view, I don't know what the hell he was thinking of. Margaret deserved justice at the Old Bailey but she wasn't given a fair hearing. If it hadn't been for her operation, his faults would not have come to light."

The court was told Walker had turned his back on Mrs McPhee, who lost 36 pints of blood, to have his picture taken with her dissected liver during the operation.