David Southall suggests that the reason
the General Medical Council struck off Sir Roy Meadow was a
perceived need to redress previous failures of regulation ("Justice
for a hero of hidden errors", February 24). He rightly says the GMC
should be ashamed.
Meadow's use of covert surveillance to demonstrate a particular
form of child abuse led to his expertise in child protection cases
and "shaken baby syndrome" convictions, four of which were
overturned. No convictions were overturned in 88 other cases
reviewed. Meadow's work therefore saved the lives of children.
A good historical example of the power of the medical
establishment to suppress progress on issues of professional shame
is that of Ignaz Semmelweiss. He recognised that puerperal sepsis
was caused by a failure to wash hands before internal examination of
a woman. He had to persuade others of his case before later work
showed conclusively that infections were caused by germs. He met
resistance and a medical journal urged an end to his chlorine
treatment. Semmelweiss denounced respected obstetric teachers as
murderers. He suffered a mental breakdown and was committed to an
asylum, where he died.
It is not surprising that we take an anti-rational approach to
dealing with illness. We want a quick, cheap, painless and complete
cure. We need more doctors such as Meadow who will face up to
D. B. Double Norfolk and Waveney Mental Health Partnership