Monday, 05 April 2010
Members of the panel,
I write to you in support of Professor Walker-Smith and indeed of Professor Murch and Mr. Andrew Wakefield and yet as I sit down to write, I barely know how to begin.
I only sat in the hearing on one day for a few hours and I canít imagine the tedium of sitting through day after day, week after week and month after month of detail. I can but assume that the reality of the situation has been lost in a forest of obfuscation.
I donít know what information you have heard about my son and apologise if this is repetition but understand that no amount of medical notation can possibly paint the true picture of the early days of my sonís life.
Iím sure you will have read that he was developing beautifully, passed all his milestones showing no cause for concern during his early months. A much loved second son following a text book pregnancy and birth.
His development began to slow down, stop and then he stopped sleeping, understanding, the speech he had been developing disappeared he stopped playing with his toys and he regressed, a pattern which we were to see repeated. He started smashing his head against the wall, screaming, spreading faeces everywhere becoming completely hyperactive, totally uncontrollable. All this from a baby who to everyone, professionals, friends and family alike, had appeared quite normal.
The local medical team who had, just weeks earlier, told us that there was nothing to worry about, assuring us that any developmental glitch was due to the impending birth of his baby sister now told us that we had a severely disabled child.
Any responsible and loving parents would want to get to the bottom of the reasons behind their babyís illness and identify appropriate medical care.
I could write tomes on the failings of the medical profession throughout our quest to help our son and cite numerous instances of sheer negligence which were worthy of complaint. None of which concern the Professors Walker-Smith and Murch or Mr. Wakefield.
In his early years he had diarrhoea up twenty times a day with his urine blistering his own skin. Did you read this in the medical notes? The only respite he had had being during a trial of gut bacteria which had helped with the production of normal stools for the first time in his life.
From the outset Professor Walker-Smith was totally professional, an old school doctor, highly intelligent and experienced with a clarity of judgement unclouded by his compassion.
At all times he was reasoned and cautious in his approach to our sonís treatment, which culminated in a thorough clinical investigation and treatment regime.
As a result, our son has had a childhood unmarred by constant pain and regression. Indeed, had he not received the treatment he had at the time, it is our opinion as a family, that he may well not be with us today. Neurologically, however, he has never recovered and he remains desperately and profoundly disabled.
Every clinical procedure on my son was carried out with care and respect. How can I be so sure? Because at all times I was allowed to remain by my sonís side.
Professor Murch, then Dr. Murch, one of the clinical team was equally professional in his approach, affording me every confidence.
Mr. Wakefield, the researcher whom I had first contacted had shown immediate concern for my sonís health and wellbeing. He suggested that William be referred to Professor Walker-Smith at St. Bartholomewís Hospital and was also the epitome of professionalism.
Until we arrived at Professor Walker-Smithís door we had not experienced this level of professionalism. On occasion we had been dismissed by callous, disinterested, inept and uncaring medics to whom the investigation of such a troublesome youngster appeared to be too bothersome.
At the same time however, and I hope you took note of the correspondence, doctors at Great Ormond Street, together with my local team were all very concerned about our sonís health and were united in wanting a full clinical investigation.
So what precisely have any of the doctors done wrong? Our son was thoroughly clinically examined (many years too late I might reiterate), he was prescribed treatment which was immediately efficacious, he was monitored appropriately and with my full consent, attempts were made to discover the cause of his condition.
I find it exceptionally curious that in all these past months, no-one has seemed remotely interested in hearing what really happened all those years ago nor even concerned about how our son has fared since. Forgive my naÔvety but isnít this what medicine and the upholding of medical standards is about?
I can only hope that as an objective panel you will re-visit the case and the outrageous accusations with a cautious eye. There are many doctors who should have been in front of you for their misdemeanours; Professor Walker-Smith, Professor Murch and Mr. Wakefield are nonesuch.
Should you wish me to come to the GMC to discuss any aspect of my sonís care with you, in camera, I will do so if it helps clarify matters.
I have my own views as to why these three most excellent, innocent and caring doctors have been brought to trial in such a brutal way. When it was announced that they were to be called to the GMC, my feeling was that it would be over in a short time as it would immediately be recognised that there was no case to answer. I had always believed in truth and justice and that false accusations, Chinese whispers, playground bullies and death by media would all eventually be rooted out
Perhaps then, you might appreciate why the announcement that you, the panel, found these three doctors guilty on all counts left me speechless.
Rosemary C.T. Kessick