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Notes on the GMC Panel decision in Dr Skinners fitness to practice hearing

[SIZE=5]I am happy to confirm that Dr Skinner is still practicing and can continue to treat for hypothyroidism in the same way that he has in the past.[/SIZE]

The FTP hearing for Dr Skinner has now been finalised and I am awaiting a copy of the transcript from the GMC. However, I made some detailed notes at the hearing, but have not had time to transcribe these yet. I hope to get around to doing this during the course of the next few days, I will post them on our web site as soon as possible

Sunday, 11 November 2007, was the day the General Medical Council panel decided that Dr Skinner’s fitness to practice had been ‘impaired’. We have been extremely concerned for the past two and a half years that the GMC might remove his registration, but were amazed, during the summing up by the Chairperson, to hear her tell Dr Skinner before she continued to give the final determination:

“It is clear that you are a caring and compassionate doctor whose overwhelming concern is the care and well-being of your patients, many of whom have pleaded that you should be allowed to continue to practise. The Panel has taken account of the fact that the majority of the written testimonials, and all of the oral evidence, was given in full knowledge of the facts found proved against you, and of the Panel’s finding of impairment. a large body of evidence has been submitted throughout this case demonstrating that many patients have benefitted from the medication which you have prescribed.”

On Friday, 9 November, we had experienced an emotional day when several patients gave evidence about their own personal road they had travelled through illness, and how ONLY Dr Skinner had given them back their health and how they had suffered dreadfully within the NHS diagnostic and treatment protocol. Some of the patient witnesses broke down in tears, one, especially, was a big lovely man who became extremely upset and it was true to say there was hardly a dry eye in the house. I know I had a trickle running down my cheeks. Even the faces of the Panel members, showed they too were affected by the terrible treatment these patients had endured. There were 17 patient witnesses altogether, but it is incredible that the panel had already made their decision at the FTP Hearing last September that Dr Skinner’s fitness to practice was “impaired” before hearing the evidence from these patient witnesses. Had they heard their evidence first, the Panel would NEVER have found his fitness to practice impaired.

The transcript will give us more idea of what evidence has been used to reach their decision, and what evidence was ignored, whether other witnesses (expert or not) lied or twisted information to get at Dr Skinner, or whether everybody told the truth. It will be an interesting exercise to go through the transcript, but we intend to work towards getting the word ‘impaired’ removed from Dr Skinners fitness to practice. Not one of the allegations from the 2 patients was proved. One patient gave evidence that the GMC had “bullied” her into giving evidence against Dr Skinner when her GP had complained to the GMC, when she had no complaint about him whatsoever.

However, Dr Skinners patients and prospective patients will all be very happy to know that he will continue to practice as he has always done, with the previous sanctions still in place for the next three years. We are delighted with this outcome and will now try to educate those doctors who are failing in their attempts at diagnosing and treating hypothyroids and try to persuade them to take a leaf out of the books of our great doctors and stand up for their patients.

I should point out here that the GMC have allowed Dr Skinner to carry on diagnosing and treating the way he already practices in the past and at present. At times, he finds it necessary to give a diagnosis of hypothyroidism when his patient’s TSH results are within the normal reference interval, but where his patient suffers many of the symptoms and signs of hypothyroidism. In such cases, he gives them a trial of thyroid hormone replacement. The GMC have no argument with this whatsoever and we now hope his regime will set a precedent. Dr Skinner uses synthetic thyroxine (T4) alone, a combination of synthetic triiodothyronine (T3)/T4, T3 alone or Armour Thyroid USP or, in some cases, a combination of synthetic and natural thyroid hormone. As the GMC have sanctioned this, perhaps more of our NHS medical practitioners will feel freer to do the same where they feel this necessary without fear of being reported.

The sanctions they have placed on Dr Skinner’s practice are the same as they placed at his original IOP two and a half years ago and are as follows:

1. He can only accept new patients for endocrinological treatment if they have been referred to him by a fully registered medical practitioner.

2. Prior to initiating any, or varying any, treatment regime, he must ensure that he has communicated his diagnosis and suggested care plan to the patients general practitioner or, if different, the referring medical practitioner

3. He must keep a logbook of all patients seen in relation to work carried out as a registered medical practitioner. This book must contain the name of the patient and the name and contact of the referring practitioner. This book must be submitted to the panel prior to any subsequent review of the order.

4. He must keep clear, contemporaneous and accurate records, and ensure that his reasons for prescribing outside of recommended guidelines are recorded.

5. Prior to any review of this order he must ensure that he provides the Panel with references, in writing, from other professional colleagues with whom he works and from general practitioners responsible for the care of his patients.

6. He must notify all employers and contractors and all prospective employers and contractors, whether for paid or voluntary employment for which registration with the GMC is required, of the matters under consideration by the GMC and of these conditions. In the case of prospective employers or contractors, this notification must be given at the time of application.

7. He must inform, in writing, the IOP Secretariat of the GMC before undertaking any position for which registration is required.

I can give you a list of ALL the sanctions applied when I am in possession of the full transcript, but I believe there is only one that I have forgotten right now.

Had the GMC decided to remove Dr Skinner’s registration, you can imagine the call for our human rights to be heard. Where would his patients have gone to get their prescriptions because the majority of medical practitioners within the NHS refuse them either a combination of synthetic T4/T3 or natural Armour, mainly because of the misleading and sometimes incorrect ‘Statement on Armour Thyroid’ published by the British Thyroid Association on their web site, and the fact that they now actively discourage the testing of Free T3. Professor Weetman said, when giving evidence as expert witness for the GMC, that by not testing Free T3, this saved the NHS money. Had Dr Skinner been removed, there was the potential that thousands of sufferers would have had to go back to using a treatment that left them ill, unable to continue working and having to live on State Benefits.

Professor Anthony Weetman acted as expert witness for the GMC and he is the President of the BTA. He tells his medical students that no doctor should give a trial of thyroxine if a patient’s TSH is within the reference interval, even though a patient is reporting many symptoms and signs.

Professor Weetman is Dean of the Medical School at the University of Sheffield and is the appointed academic representative on the Trust Board. Professor Weetman is Professor of Medicine and an Honorary Consultant at the Trust with a special interest in thyroid disease and autoimmune endocrine disorders. He was formerly a non-executive director with both Sheffield Health Authority and the Northern General Hospital NHS Trust.

Professor Weetman, I have been given to understand, is acting head of all other medical schools.

Professor Weetman is on the Editorial Panel of EVERY major Medical Journal.

Professor Weetman in giving evidence stated that he had NEVER had a patient in his 20 years of practice, who complained of headache or who had complained of ‘side hallucinations’ in their vision, as Dr Skinner had reported with one of his patients and which Dr Thierry Hertoghe demonstrated through reference to many endocrine journals.

Perhaps the GMC should be put on trial for acting illegally, as they do not have the right to sanction alternative practices, because they are practices outside mainstream medicine. The GMC FTP Panel comprised an Ophthalmologist and three lay members, and found Dr. Skinner’s FTP “impaired”, and they declared that other doctors were to be strongly discouraged from treating patients in the same way as Dr. Skinner (this was their decision last September, before they heard the patients evidence). So, non-experts in the field of hypothyroidism are advocating medical guidance, which could have disastrous consequences for thousands of hypothyroid patients.

We held a gathering at the Premier Inn Bar after the completion of the hearing to discuss where we go from here. I have heard today from the GMC that the transcript and Determination will be sent out during the week of the 19 November. We will spend some time going through all the evidence given by the opposition with a fine tooth comb.

We are going to have a very busy year ahead of us, but I am a great believer in truth and truth will out! Needless to say we were a very happy band and had great celebrations after the hearing.

Congratulations, Dr Skinner, and we are delighted you will remain to help potentially thousands more patients and thank you for the care and kindness you have shown to so many patients and for being the doctor who listened and gave back normal health to so many. We would like also to mention Afshan [Dr. Ahmad], who deserves a massive thank you for her cheerfulness, determination, unfailing support and optimism in such a dire situation. She has been an inspiration to us all and especially to Dr Skinner.

If you would like a copy of the transcript and Determination please request these items from jreid@gmc-uk.org

GMC flaws addressed in letter to Sir Graeme Catto, GMC President

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