Letter: Judgements in hindsight of doctor jailed in HIV blood-transfusion case

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Sir: In your news report and leader comment about Professor Jean Pierre Allain, you express concern that what you describe as 'whistle blowers' are sacked for speaking out in this country. Your own assessment of this case is that Professor Allain also blew his whistle - but not loud enough. You argue therefore that it is right that he be both jailed and sacked.

Frankly, I cannot see how this attitude could be of any help to patients. The imperative must be to create a climate in the NHS where people can act fearlessly and honestly in support of their convictions. We will only create this climate if public bodies take considered decisions and act in a manner that allows a thorough assessment of individual circumstances.

Last October, the East Anglian Regional Health Authority was not convinced that Professor Allain's conviction should automatically lead to dismissal and we asked an independent panel of inquiry to advise us. They were asked to consider the implications of the conviction for his continued employment with us (not to 'challenge the French legal process', which is none of our concern).

The panel reported in May, by which time Professor Allain was back in court and it would have been inappropriate for us to make public comment. On 13 July, Professor Allain's conviction and sentence were confirmed and the regional health authority will be considering the issue at a meeting this week - the first formal opportunity since the appeal was concluded.

The regional health authority has sought to act throughout in a manner that ensures that the public and our staff can have confidence in us and that we adhere to a standard of behaviour that I hope they could expect from any public body.

Yours faithfully,



East Anglian Regional

Health Authority


26 July