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Under-fire medic trained young doctors
A CONSULTANT criticised over his care of a dying boy helped train junior doctors in the years following the youngster’s death, a tribunal heard yesterday.
Dr Malik Alam is the subject of a misconduct hearing arising from the death of ten-year-old William Cressey, from Croft, near Darlington, in 2005.
Earlier this year, a General Medical Council (GMC) fitness to practise hearing found a string of failures in Dr Alam’s care of William, who was taken to Darlington Memorial Hospital (DMH) in February 2005, complaining of a severe headache and stiff neck.
The failings included not diagnosing William’s symptoms as meningitis, discharging him from hospital and delaying the prescription of potentially lifesaving drugs.
William was taken back to hospital and eventually prescribed antibiotics, but it was too late and he died on March 1. Following the hearing earlier this year, the GMC reserved judgement on whether or not Dr Alam was fit to practise.
This week’s hearing, being heard by the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Serivce, an operationally separate part of the GMC, is to determine whether he is fit to practise.
Dr Indra Thakur, a consultant paediatrician at DMH, was called to give evidence on behalf of Dr Alam, who retired earlier this year, having continued to work following William’s death.
He said: “Dr Alam is a competent clinician, he was liked by his patients and was committed to teaching and training the juniors.
“He was also one of the leads for child protection.”
Dr Thakur said trainee doctors enjoyed Dr Alam’s teaching, adding that there was never a question over his character or trustworthiness.
Asked to sum up the standard of Dr Alam’s care to patients, Dr Thakur replied: “We did not have any problems.”
Pressed by GMC counsel Sophie Cartwright, Dr Thakur confirmed changes had been made in the department in the wake of William’s death, including the introduction of a policy stipulating that children in priority cases should not be discharged until they have been assessed by a consultant.
The panel then heard from Dr Alam’s former secretary, Sheila Johnson, who said she had never received a complaint about Dr Alam in more than ten years.
Ms Johnson added: “Junior members of staff always found him a calming influence and very approachable – not all consultants are.”
The hearing, in Manchester, is due to conclude on Friday.