Rough Justice in the United Kingdom: GMC Suspends Dr. Barry Durrant-Peatfield
UK Patients Lose Services of UK's Most Innovative Thyroid and Adrenal Practitioner
GMC's Latest Maneuver in Just One in String of Questionable, Controversial and Suspect Moves

by Mary J. Shomon

"The committee was shame-faced. They were there to crucify me and crucify me they did."
-- Dr. Barry Durrant-Peatfield
May 14, 2001 -- It's a dark day for thyroid patients in the United Kingdom (UK). After what has been described by onlookers as as a "kangaroo court" proceeding, on May 11, 2001, one of the UK's most popular and beloved doctors, Barry Durrant-Peatfield, has had his license to practice medicine suspended for 18 months by the GMC, the General Medical Council. The GMC licenses medical doctors to practice in the UK and is equivalent to state medical associations in the U.S.

Earlier this spring, Dr. Durrant-Peatfield received a long missive from the GMC, accusing him of serious professional misconduct in his natural thyroid and adrenal support protocols. The GMC provided a list of charges that, according to Dr. Durrant-Peatfield, are "completely unfounded." Charges included:
Doctor Durrant-Peatfield mounted a lengthy and impassioned response, only to receive yet another huge missive with a list of items to address. That time, Dr. Durrant-Peatfield had only seven days notice to respond to the Interim Orders Committee, which was planning to meet to discuss the suspension of his registration, citing the doctor as "threat to the public." At that point, Dr. Durrant-Peatfield's network of supportive patients started mobilizing and submitting hundreds of letters in his defense, and contacting the media.

The day the committee was to meet, Thursday April 19, 2001, Dr. Durrant-Peatfield was not informed of any outcome. In a call on Friday April 20th, he was told that the case hadn't been considered, and in fact, it would be considered the following Monday. As more letters poured in, the GMC again called Dr. Durrant-Peatfield, and told him that the case would be deferred until Friday, May 11, 2001. They also indicated that the doctor was free to continue practicing up until that date.

Hundreds of letters poured in to the GMC from patients and practitioners in the UK and around the world, including a number that were prompted by coverage of Dr. Durrant-Peatfield's plight here at my site.. Apparently, On May 11, 2001, the proceedings opened with the GMC solicitor reading a list of charges. Dr. Durrant-Peatfield was given less than an hour to rebut the charges, and the doctor provided a compehensive rebuttal.
Said Dr. Durrant-Peatfield, in an interview on Sunday May 13, 2001, from his home in England, "I acquitted myself with honor, everything I said was true, and I gave a full and honest rebuttal."

After a break for lunch and deliberation, the doctor was called back to court after 45 minutes, at which point, the verdict of immediate suspension was delivered, in writing, along with numerous other statements and papers in multiple copies.

Said Dr. Durrant-Peatfield, "They claimed that I am a danger to the public. Obviously, the committee accepted everything their solicitor said and ignored my rebuttal entirely." The many letters of support for Dr. Durrant-Peatfield submitted by patients and physicians were not even reviewed as part of the proceedings.

Dr. Durrant-Peatfield believes that the committee knew exactly what they were doing in rushing the decision through and suspending him. "They couldn't even look me in the face as the verdict was delivered," he said. "They all knew it was a massive piece of injustice."

Immediately upon delivery of the verdict, the legal assessor from the GMC apparently made an official statement that he had "nothing to do with this decision," disavowing his involvement and indicating disapproval of the verdict.

While a final hearing will take place in six months to revisit this decision, Dr. Durrant-Peatfield is not hopeful. "If I'd had the Pope there to defend me, it would have gone the same way. This is purely their excuse to get me off the register to practice thyroid and adrenal medicine."

In the meantime, Dr. Durrant-Peatfield said that his patients will be handled by locums -- substitute doctors -- working out of his offices, and following his protocols. But ultimately, he fears for his patients. "What's going to happen to them when I can't care for them?"

Dr. Durrant-Peatfield has exhausted his resources mounting his defense to the GMC attacks to date, and has indicated that he intends to focus his efforts towards educating his fellow physicians about thyroid and adrenal treatment, in the hopes that he can help shift archaic approaches to treating these conditions. He also plans to speak out to make the abuses and ulterior motivates of the GMC more widely known to the public.

"If I'd had the Pope there to defend me, it would have gone the same way. This is purely their excuse to get me off the register to practice thyroid and adrenal medicine."
Dr. Barry Durrant-Peatfield
Under the current GMC process, doctors sit as judge, jury and prosecutor of other doctors, making it easy for physicians to target their fellow doctors for GMC review and suspension, based on any motive -- both reasonable and ridiculous. Such a system is ripe for abuse, and the GMC seems to have succumbed to the forces of certain physicians who wish to carry out actions against their fellow doctors for a variety of questionable reasons, including professional jealousy, competition, or disagreement over treatment approaches.

Recently, for example, it's been alleged that professional jealousy was behind the GMC's campaign toeliminate a number of successful, high-profile female surgeons by targeting them for suspension. Racism has also been an allegation that has plagued the GMC, and it's thought that some campaigns have deliberately targeted foreign-born doctors for suspension.

The GMC also seems to be overzealous in its attempts to go after particular physicians, and is actively soliciting cases against physicians by contacting patients. Recently, patients who had not filed charges found that their names were still listed as being in a case against their physicians, forcing them to speak out publicly to publicize the fact that their medical cases are being used against physicians without their consent.

The bias of the GMC has been the topic of much media attention. According to research from the Consumers' Association, of 264 people who had complained to the GMC, only six saw any action taken against their doctor, and 82% were unhappy with the fairness of the procedures.

The GMC also seems to carry out a policy of selective and erratic enforcement. Recently, a Dr. Krishna Mohan Singh missed a football-sized tumor in a young patient, and was found guilty of serious professional misconduct, yet was told he could continue to practice medicine.

And, in what is probably one of the GMC's most humiliating episodes and evidence of its incompetence, there's the case of Harold Shipman, the Manchester physician, now dubbed Britain's most prolific serial killer, who was convicted of killing 15 elderly women patients, but who is believed to have killed more than 100 patients during his 30-year career as a doctor, all the while managing to elude the GMC, despite numerous unheeded complaints about him that went to the GMC.

The British Medical Association also passed a vote of no confidence in the GMC at its annual meeting in June of 2000, indicating that the majority of physicians in the UK themselves don't find the GMC effective.

While the GMC carries out its campaigns of self-interest, public dissatisfaction with Britain's national health service, the NHS, is rapidly on the rise. Acording to a survey conducted by the British Medical Association, the number of people very satisfied with the NHS has since 1998 dropped from 24 per cent to 13 per cent, while the number fairly or very dissatisfied rose from 18 to 28 per cent.

It's unfortunate that the GMC's Interim Orders Committee has suspended Dr. Durrant-Peatfield, and in doing so, has managed to turn back the clock on thyroid and adrenal treatment. Ultimately, they are attempting to ensure that more than ever before, UK patients suffering from thyroid, adrenal and chronic fatigue problems are left with less choices, poor treatment, and limited options beyond what is comfortable, profitable and easy for them as physicians who seem to know little about patient care for thyroid and adrenal conditions.

Other alternative private doctors who treat thyroid disease will soon be under full attack from the GMC, and ultimately, thyroid patients in the UK may be left with nothing but the National Health Service, its limited treatment options, and overreliance on TSH tests and levothyroxine as the sole means of diagnosis and treatment.

It's a dark day indeed for thyroid patients in the U.K.