Baby P doctor stays on medical register

Click to follow
The Independent Online

A doctor accused of failing to spot that Baby P had a broken back days before his death had her application to be removed from the medical register rejected today.

Consultant paediatrician Dr Sabah Al-Zayyat is facing disciplinary action at the General Medical Council over her care of the toddler.

Earlier this month she applied for "voluntary erasure" from the medical register, which would have avoided the need for a full misconduct hearing.

But a GMC fitness to practise panel today rejected the request, ruling that the "serious" allegations against her should be heard in public.

Chairman Ralph Bergmann said: "The panel considers that to accede to the application for voluntary erasure would avoid a public, and necessary, examination of the facts of this case."

Dr Al-Zayyat examined 17-month-old Baby P - now named as Peter Connelly - at a child development clinic at St Ann's Hospital in Tottenham, north London, on August 1 2007.

But she allegedly missed his injuries after deciding she could not carry out a full check-up because he was "miserable and cranky".

Two days later, Peter died at the hands of his mother, her boyfriend and his brother. They were all jailed in May last year.

A post-mortem examination found he had probably suffered serious injuries, including a broken back and fractured ribs, before he was examined by the doctor, their trial at the Old Bailey heard.

Dr Al-Zayyat, who did not attend today's hearing, was originally due to face GMC disciplinary action in February.

The earlier session was adjourned after the panel heard she was "suicidal", unfit to defend herself and had left the country.

But Mr Bergmann today rejected claims that Dr Al-Zayyat was "genuinely or involuntarily incapacitated" and could not take part in the hearing.

He said: "The panel is not persuaded that any incapacity on the part of Dr Al-Zayyat is involuntary and cannot be overcome by appropriate measures.

"This panel notes and concurs with the view of the fitness to practise panel in February-March 2010 that Dr Al-Zayyat's departure from the United Kingdom on the evening prior to the earlier hearing was voluntary and deliberate.

"Furthermore, this panel is firmly of the opinion that her absence from this hearing is also voluntary and deliberate."

Mr Bergmann added that the doctor's interests were outweighed by the need to maintain public confidence in the medical profession and in the GMC.

Mary O'Rourke QC, for Dr Al-Zayyat, told the panel she would go to the High Court to seek a judicial review of its decision not to allow voluntary erasure.

The GMC accuses the doctor of knowing the toddler was on Haringey Council's child protection register but failing to carry out an adequate examination, failing to investigate the explanation offered for his injuries and failing to record whether she considered the possibility that he was the victim of child abuse.

At the time Peter was suffering from up to 18 bruises, scabs, a spinal fracture, acute fractures to eight ribs, injuries to a toe and two fingers and an infected wound next to his ear, the GMC alleges.

Dr Al-Zayyat is accused of failing to diagnose that Peter had suffered physical abuse, possible neglect and emotional abuse, and not arranging for him to be admitted to hospital.

In addition, she is alleged to have applied for a job with The Adelaide and Meath Hospital in Dublin, Ireland, in November 2008 without telling her prospective employers there were conditions on her registration as a doctor in the UK.

She is also accused of claiming in a CV that she had worked continuously for four and a half years as a consultant paediatrician at The Adelaide and Meath Hospital when in fact she had held 11 non-continuous locum posts.

Dr Al-Zayyat, who qualified in Pakistan and worked in Saudi Arabia before coming to Britain in 2004, was suspended from practice by the GMC in November 2008.

The doctor had her contract with Great Ormond Street Hospital terminated after details of Peter's case came to light.

She has since launched a claim for damages against the world-famous children's hospital over her dismissal.

Today's hearing was told that she has not practised medicine since May 2008 and has stated she will not work as a doctor in the UK in the future.

The hearing was adjourned until 9.30am on Thursday to give Dr Al-Zayyat's legal team time to make their judicial review application.

Ms O'Rourke indicated that she would not return to the GMC if the High Court ordered that the disciplinary proceedings should be halted.









The hearing was adjourned until 9.30am on Thursday to give Dr Al-Zayyat's legal team time to make their judicial review application.

Ms O'Rourke indicated that she would not return to the GMC if the High Court ordered that the disciplinary proceedings should be halted.

Comments