Hunts doctor excluded from work for 5 years

A HUNTINGDONSHIRE doctor was excluded from work for five years after she objected to her own private medical records being given to researchers. The doctor was also unjustly branded dishonest and believes her career was curtailed by the actions of Cambr

A HUNTINGDONSHIRE doctor was excluded from work for five years after she objected to her own private medical records being given to researchers.

The doctor was also "unjustly branded dishonest" and believes her career was curtailed by the actions of Cambridgeshire Primary Care Trust (PCT).

At the High Court in London on Friday, the PCT took the unusual step of making an apology to the doctor, who cannot be named for legal reasons.

The woman, who in court was referred to as Z, said in a statement: "After six years of medical training and several years working long hours as a junior doctor and dedicating myself to the health service, medicine was my life.

"Being excluded from work for five years has curtailed my promising career and has caused absolute devastation to both my professional and personal life and to my family."

At the High Court Mr Justice Eady was told that the woman was born with a serious and life-threatening condition which attracted interest from medical researchers.

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The court heard that her medical details "in fully identifiable form" were circulated widely for the purposes of research at Addenbrooke's Hospital in Cambridge. As a result she received "uninvited, intrusive and upsetting" phone calls from unknown researchers.

Despite repeated attempts to have her details deleted from databases, she had to take court action to force Addenbrooke's to keep her medical records secret, the court heard.

Barrister Damian Brown, acting for PCT, the doctor's employers, and the East of England Strategic Health Authority, said after objecting to the availability of her medical records, the doctor found herself suspended from work after her fitness to practice was questioned.

In August 2002, the doctor was referred to an occupational health consultant and as a result of communications arising out that referral, Mr Brown said, the doctor "was placed on special leave from her employment with the PCT".

On Friday both the PCT and the SHA said in a statement in court that:

nclaims about the doctor's fitness to practice were "groundless and unfounded".

nAllegations the doctor was "dishonest" were "baseless", as was an allegation she had made up sick notes.

nThey withdrew an allegation that the doctor had been mistaken when she claimed details of her medical condition were held on a database.

nThat when placing the doctor on special leave, the PCT was "wholly misled" by details provided by a third party who should not have been relied on.

nThat the doctor should not have placed on special leave.

"The PCT and the SHA apologise unreservedly for the distress that has been caused to Z in relation to these matters and the resulting affront to her professional integrity," said Mr Brown.

"The PCT further apologises that as a result of these matters, Z has been on special leave for some four and a half years. Any future employers of Z should not regard this as in any way a stain on Z's character or professionalism.

"The PCT and the SHA appreciate that the concept of medical confidentiality is paramount if patients are to have trust in the medical profession, in hospitals and in doctors. They appreciate that Z has had a long and distressing battle to preserve her medical privacy."

A spokesman for the PCT said it was unable to comment for legal reasons.

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