So Andrew Wakefield has been found proved guilty of the vast majority of the accusations against him and been found dishonest and acting irresponsibly with both the children under his ‘care’ and the not inconsiderable sums of public money he had occassion to recieve and ‘manage’.
None of this would have come as a surprise to anyone who had taken the time to carefully read Brian Deer’s thorough works on the subject. That it was a major shock to the John Stone’s and Martin Walker’s of this world tells you more about their capacity for self delusion than how shocking the findings regarding Wakefield were.
So what's next for Andrew Wakefield? Now that the official findings have been made public, the GMC must consider:
...whether those facts found proved or admitted, were insufficient to amount to a finding of serious professional misconduct. The Panel concluded that these findings, which include those of dishonesty and misleading conduct, would not be insufficient to support a finding of serious professional misconduct.
Yeah, pointless double speak aside (would not be insufficient??) the panel are basically saying that Andrew Wakefield’s behaviour could easily constitute serious professional misconduct.
So what can result from that? Brian Deer, writing in the Times Online provides a possible answer:
Lawyers have told me that any one of the more than 30 charges that were proved against Wakefield would typically lead to his being struck off. His days as a medical practitioner will soon be history…
And so what is the next step?
In the next session, commencing 7 April 2010, the Panel, under Rule 28, will hear evidence to be adduced and submissions from prosecution counsel then Dr Wakefield’s own counsel as to whether the facts as found proved do amount to
serious professional misconduct, and if so, what sanction, if any, should be imposed on his registration.
From April 7th then Andrew Wakefield will be fighting for the right to refer to himself and be referred to by others as ‘Doctor’. That will be a victory for anyone concerned with patient care in the UK.