Hospitals Must 'Come Clean' over Research

The Birmingham Post (England), October 24, 2006 | Go to article overview
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Hospitals Must 'Come Clean' over Research


Byline: By Jonathan Walker Political Editor

A Midland hospital should come clean with patients who may have been the subject of controversial medical research when they were babies, said a Birmingham MP.

John Hemming (Lib Dem Yardley) called on University Hospital of North Staffordshire, which runs hospitals in Stoke-on-Trent, to release thousands of medical records.

In a House of Commons motion he said the trust was holding case files including details of research by controversial paediatrician David Southall on "many thousands of babies".

In 2004 the General Medical Council found Prof Southall guilty of serious professional misconduct after he wrongly accused the husband of solicitor Sally Clark of killing their two children.

Sally Clark was convicted in 1999 of murdering her sons, Christopher and Harry, but that conviction was quashed when new medical evidence showing the babies died of natural causes was accepted at a second appeal hearing in January 2003.

The GMC hearing centred on conclusions Prof Southall drew after seeing an interview with Stephen Clark on Channel 4's Dispatches programme broadcast in April 2000.

University Hospital of North Staffordshire supported Prof Southall and said it would continue to employ him because of his expertise treating sick children.

He is also one of the leading proponents of the diagnosis of Munchausen's syndrome by proxy, in which a parent or carer is said to harm a child to attract attention.

Following the GMC ruling, a number of parents claimed they had been wrongly accused of harming their children.

Mr Hemming's motion deals with experiments conducted by Prof Southall in Stoke, including one which examined the effect on babies of reducing the level of oxygen in their air they breathed.

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