15 November, 2006

Professor Southall 3:

Nothing new showing on Google News about Professor David Southall's disciplinary earning before the General Medical Council. However, I can add some further context to add to yesterday's post.

John Hemming, MP, is, quite rightly, being critical of the GMC for preventing five families involved in the case from speaking to the press. Hemming provides a link to the website of Lawrence Alexander. Alexander writes of,

...my parents being falsely accused of harming me and faking illness and my being subjected to, in my view, harmful and dangerous research by "world cot death expert" Professor David Southall when I was a baby, using his "state of the art" equipment.
Alexander is keeping a comprehensive database of press reports. I am sure that most people will wish him luck in his battle with the GMC.

The research referred to by both Hemming and Alexander appears to be Southall's so-called pioneering work, in an eight year study, with video surveillance in hospitals. From the BBC in 2004:
Professor Southall pioneered the use of covert video surveillance to detect cases of Munchausen's.

The eight-year study, which started in 1986, found that youngsters aged between two months and 44 months were being deliberately injured in cruel and sadistic attacks by their parents or step parents while in hospital.

The most common method of abuse was suffocation, but deliberate fractures and poisoning were also uncovered by CVS.

Following detection of the abuse, 23 parents or step-parents of the 39 children identified as at risk by doctors, social workers and psychiatrists, were found to be suffering from the attention-seeking disorder Munchausen's.

But despite Professor Southall, himself a father of four, being praised by a judge following a successful court action against one abusive mother, his efforts raised difficult ethical issues and sparked an angry response from parents.

Some parents complained that the hospitals involved - the Royal Brompton, in London, and the North Staffordshire Royal Infirmary, Stoke-on-Trent - were operating a policy of entrapment.

Covert filming led to a total of 33 parents or step-parents being prosecuted.

Seven complaints, believed to relate to cases where children were removed from families after Professor Southall diagnosed Munchausen's, are due to be heard by the GMC in January.

His research into CNEP ventilators at North Staffordshire has also provoked intense scrutiny because parents claimed they did not give consent to their children taking part in the trial and they claim their signatures were forged.
That is a lot of grief and suffering for a lot of probably innocent people, all caused by an epistemologically arrogant medical profession.

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