British doctors, writes Dalrymple,
live in fear.
- fear that their patients might sue them
- fear to say what they think to their managers
- fear that they might fall foul of the Crown Prosecution Service if one of their patients dies unexpectedly
- fear to protest when they are subjected to absurd and meaningless bureaucratic procedures
- fear the General Medical Council
The General Medical Council’s striking off the medical register of Waney Squier, the neuropathologist who gave evidence in trials concerning babies allegedly shaken to death by their parents,
will have sent shivers down the spine of many a medical expert witness in Britain. Among Dr Squier’s faults, apparently, were dogmatism and failure to give due weight to the opinion of her colleagues. Where are we, one feels like asking? The Soviet Union? Maoist China?
In the witness box, Dalrymple is
firm, not rigid or dogmatic. It is my colleagues who appear for the other side who are rigid or dogmatic. Not that we experts take sides, of course: we are merely assisting the court. We give scientific evidence; we do not make a case.
Dalrymple points out that
if medical experts are to be struck off because their evidence is deemed deficient in some way, there will soon be a deficiency of experts.
It is the duty of the courts
to sift the evidential wheat from the chaff, and in my experience they do it rather well — considering the imperfectability of man.