Sunday, 1 November 2009

'Whitewash' claim over Lisa Norris radiation overdose ruling

The family of a teenager wrongly given massive doses of radiation has branded a decision not to punish the doctor responsible a “whitewash”.

The Health Professions Council (HPC) upheld charges against Dr Stuart McNee at a disciplinary hearing in Edinburgh but decided he should not be struck off.

Speaking afterwards, the parents of Lisa Norris said the decision was a “travesty” and said no one had taken responsibility for administering 19 radiation overdoses.

The 16-year-old was diagnosed with a brain tumour in October 2005, and was given radiation 58 per cent higher than prescribed in January 2006.

This left her with burns on her head and neck. She died from the tumour at her home in Ayrshire later that year.

The conduct and competence hearing was attended by Lisa’s parents Ken and Liz, who said they would continue with legal action against Greater Glasgow and Clyde health board.

Mr Norris, 53, said: “I'm very disappointed that a man can do what he did and walk away from it. I was expecting him to at least get reprimanded for it.

“I expected him to be here so we could come face to face with him. No one has taken responsibility for overdosing Lisa and as far as I'm concerned they have just whitewashed it.

“It doesn't matter that he had a good, impeccable record. What he did, he shouldn't have done. It's a travesty.”

The HPC disciplinary panel found Dr McNee had been responsible for planning the botched course of radiotherapy at the Beatson Oncology Centre in Glasgow.

But they concluded his biggest failing had been not speaking out over staffing pressures in his department.

This had led to his failure to ensure that standing operating procedures were up to date or even followed, or to make sure that systems were in place to ensure his trainee practitioners were supported.

Alistair Forsyth, representing Dr McNee, argued his client had “simply reached a breaking point where too much was being expected of him”.

The doctor had to deal with 80 to 100 cases at any one time and was the only senior radiotherapy physicist involved in treatment planning at one of the busiest centres of its kind in the UK.

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