No action against Irish consultant over NHS hospital scandal
End of inquiry into doctors’ conduct at Mid-Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust
The four doctors worked at the Mid-Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust where the “terrible and unnecessary suffering” of hundreds of patients led to one of the biggest crises in the history of the National Health Service. Photograph: Christopher Furlong/Getty Images
An investigation into the conduct of four doctors, including an Irish consultant, at an English hospital at the centre of a neglect and abuse scandal has ended, with no disciplinary action being taken.
The doctors worked at the Mid-Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust where the “terrible and unnecessary suffering” of hundreds of patients led to one of the biggest crises in the history of the National Health Service.
Rheumatologist Diarmuid Mulherin, educated at University College Dublin, was one of four doctors to face fitness to practice investigations by the British General Medical Council (GMC).
Ending the inquiry yesterday, the GMC said the majority of evidence gathered from patients about the four doctors had been “favourable” to them.
“It provides a picture of well-intentioned individuals doing their best in difficult circumstances to improve poor standards,” leading QC Tom Kark told the GMC.
The testimony gathered by the Francis Inquiry – an official probe set up after years of complaints from patients and their families – could not be used in GMC hearing. “It would not fair, nor would it be in the public interest, to prosecute doctors in order to satisfy public demand for someone to blame when the evidence does not support such a prosecution,” said Mr Kark.
Dr Mulherin, who had served as medical director of the trust, qualified from UCD in 1986, later serving in St James’ and St Vincent’s hospitals in Dublin.
The GMC has investigated over 40 doctors who worked in Mid-Staffordshire. One has been erased from the register and others have been given advice or warnings. Sixteen have faced no further action.
Three nurses have been struck off the register, while one disciplinary action against another nurse is still ongoing.
“We know that many of those who saw and experienced the appalling care at the Trust feel badly let down and frustrated that no-one is taking responsibility for what happened,” said GMC chief executive Niall Dickson in a statement.
“However, the law is clear: we can only prosecute a doctor if there is sufficient evidence of that individual’s wrongdoing.”