A case that undermines confidence in the NHS and the medical profession

Share
Related Topics

The case of the disgraced former gynaecologist Richard Neale is one of the more disturbing in the annals of medical incompetence. In July 2000 the General Medical Council found him guilty of ruining the lives of 13 women. He did operations without consent and carried out botched and unnecessary surgery, leaving patients disfigured, in constant pain and unable to have children. Of 35 charges against him, 34 were found proved.

The GMC only heard complaints from 14 British women – one of which was dismissed. More than 60 had claimed to have suffered at his hands, and it is thought more than 200 could have been affected. As well as messing up operations, Neale bullied patients into paying to go private and flew into a rage if they questioned his methods. He lied about his CV. And all this after having fled Canada, where he had been struck off following the deaths of two patients.

Yet incredibly, despite this track record, Mr Neale was offered a job in August last year by the South Manchester and Wythenshawe NHS Hospital Trust. It may not have been a front-line position in medical practice, but it was a job that was far too close to the clinical work of the hospital for comfort. Mr Neale was thought a fit and proper person to be appointed clinical audit officer in cardiology at the Wythenshawe Hospital, a particularly bad choice of role given that it was failures of professional supervision that had allowed him to go about his malign business for so long.

Mr Neale completed his contract in April. The fact that he was given this job having been struck off is a frightening indictment of the lack of adequate checks and controls on the employment of staff in the NHS. What's more, in the course of an extraordinary interview on the Today programme yesterday, Mr Neale declared that he had made his history known to the medical authorities in the course of his interview for the job, but that, after a delay, they employed him anyway.

That tells us a good deal about the smug "protect your own" ethos of the medical profession that all too often puts the vital interests of the patient behind the prestige of the profession. Indeed, Mr Neale's chutzpah is so outrageous that he declared "patients should have no fears about my activities" and seemed to be asking for sympathy when he claimed that it would be a waste of his "talents" if he wasn't given a job by the trust. He pleaded that he was still having nightmares about his experiences.

This dreadful egotist has not rehabilitated himself, and the continued indulgence shown by the medical authorities has almost certainly put back that moment of Damascene self-awareness. Mr Neale, and those like him, should be given an opportunity to make a living and to make amends as best they can for their misdemeanours, but this does not mean they should be welcomed back into the health service. This doctor betrayed his patients in the most appalling and fundamental manner, ruining the lives of many of them, and it is extraordinary that the health service appears to believe that the right way to rehabilitate him is to find him a cushy job behind a desk.

There is, of course, everything to be said for forgiveness. However, in the case of Richard Neale, the milk of human kindness may have run to excess. This is certainly not a tale that inspires confidence in the quality of NHS management, the self-regulation of medical miscreants or the attitudes of the profession. It is not just Mr Neale who should have a guilty conscience.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: E-commerce Executive - UK / International

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: You will be joining a long-established, renown...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Manager - Signs and Graphics

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The key requirements of the rol...

Recruitment Genius: Company Commercial / Company Property Solicitor

£30000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This south Warwickshire based s...

Selby Jennings: Leveraged Finance - Senior Associate - International Bank - Frankfurt

Competitive + bonus: Selby Jennings: My client, a growing European CIB are loo...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Daily catch-up: Old London Bridge; how to fight UKIP; and wolves

John Rentoul
Muslim men pray at the East London Mosque  

Sadly, it needs to be said again: being a Muslim is not a crime

Yasmin Alibhai Brown
In a world of Saudi bullying, right-wing Israeli ministers and the twilight of Obama, Iran is looking like a possible policeman of the Gulf

Iran is shifting from pariah to possible future policeman of the Gulf

Robert Fisk on our crisis with Iran
The young are the new poor: A third of young people pushed into poverty

The young are the new poor

Sharp increase in the number of under-25s living in poverty
Greens on the march: ‘We could be on the edge of something very big’

Greens on the march

‘We could be on the edge of something very big’
Revealed: the case against Bill Cosby - through the stories of his accusers

Revealed: the case against Bill Cosby

Through the stories of his accusers
Why are words like 'mongol' and 'mongoloid' still bandied about as insults?

The Meaning of Mongol

Why are the words 'mongol' and 'mongoloid' still bandied about as insults?
Mau Mau uprising: Kenyans still waiting for justice join class action over Britain's role in the emergency

Kenyans still waiting for justice over Mau Mau uprising

Thousands join class action over Britain's role in the emergency
Isis in Iraq: The trauma of the last six months has overwhelmed the remaining Christians in the country

The last Christians in Iraq

After 2,000 years, a community will try anything – including pretending to convert to Islam – to avoid losing everything, says Patrick Cockburn
Black Friday: Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Britain braced for Black Friday
Bill Cosby's persona goes from America's dad to date-rape drugs

From America's dad to date-rape drugs

Stories of Bill Cosby's alleged sexual assaults may have circulated widely in Hollywood, but they came as a shock to fans, says Rupert Cornwell
Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

As fans flock to see England women's Wembley debut against Germany, the TV presenter on an exciting 'sea change'
Oh come, all ye multi-faithful: The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?

Oh come, all ye multi-faithful

The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
Dr Charles Heatley: The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

Dr Charles Heatley on joining the NHS volunteers' team bound for Sierra Leone
Flogging vlogging: First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books

Flogging vlogging

First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show: US channels wage comedy star wars

Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show

US channels wage comedy star wars
When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine? When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible

When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine?

When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible