Suspended doctor thanks his patients

PUBLISHED: 17:09 03 October 2001 | UPDATED: 10:36 03 March 2010

A SUSPENDED doctor today thanked his patients for their "absolutely phenomenal" support but said the huge costs involved had caused him to abandon his fight to clear his name.

A SUSPENDED doctor today thanked his patients for their "absolutely phenomenal" support but said the huge costs involved had caused him to abandon his fight to clear his name.

Dr Charles Burnham-Slipper has withdrawn his appeal to seek reinstatement on the medical register, and is to retire.

The Felixstowe GP was stung by costs of more than £23,000 after losing a High Court battle for a judicial review, and says that if he lost the main appeal the financial consequences could be totally unacceptable.

He has given the matter deep thought over the past two months and has now informed the General Medical Council and Suffolk Health of his decision.

It has left his supporters - 2,500 of whom signed a petition calling for his reinstatement and 600 who wrote letters of support - extremely disappointed, but they say they accept his reasons.

Dr Burnham-Slipper, 62, of Golf Road, Felixstowe, was suspended from practising as a GP at the Walton surgery, Walton High Street, in the spring after the GMC found him guilty of professional misconduct.

His partner Dr William McKee had reported concerns about him to health chiefs, leading to the inquiry.

The GMC's professional conduct committee said Dr Burnham-Slipper failed to refer five patients, including four women who suspected they had cancer, to specialists and criticised him for removing a large number of patients' medical records from his practice.

He appealed against the decision, and while waiting for this to be heard by the Privy Council made request for a judicial review to the High Court.

He asked the court to lift the suspension to allow him to practise as port medical adviser at the Port of Felixstowe to earn a living until the appeal could be heard.

However, the court refused to lift the suspension, leaving the GP with his own legal costs of around £11,000 and those of the GMC of £12,000.

Dr Burnham-Slipper said: "I have withdrawn my appeal and I am going to retire from medical practise as I lost my appeal on the judicial review, and the main appeal is probably still nine months away.

"Because of the failure of the previous appeal, the chances of success at the main appeal are greatly reduced, and if I fail in the main appeal the financial implications are totally unacceptable."

He thanked all those patients who had supported him during the past few turbulent months.

"The support that I have had from my patients has been absolutely phenomenal. I knew I was popular, but I didn't realise how much I was liked and respected," he said.

"I would like to thank them all for their support and loyalty. It has been an honour and a privilege to look after them as their doctor."

Supporters, many of whom wrote personal letters to him, held a march through Felixstowe to protest at the punishment, which they claimed was too harsh.

They also took copies of the petition and letters to 10 Downing Street and to the GMC's headquarters in Portland Street, London.

Penny Parker, who organised the campaign for his reinstatement, said: "We are disappointed but we accept fully Dr Burnham-Slipper's reasons why he has withdrawn the appeal.

"As far as we are concerned our doctor has not been struck off or suspended, he has retired after many years' excellent service to his patients.

"We want to see the British Medical Association take up some of the issues of this case – especially help needed for doctors with heavy workloads."

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