GMC rules against MMR doctor Andrew Wakefield

The GMC has found the facts against Dr Andrew Wakefield, the doctor at the centre of the MMR controversy, proven on almost every count.

Dr Wakefield's research had serious repercussions resulting in a drop in vaccination rates of 20% (Photograph: SPL)
Dr Wakefield's research had serious repercussions resulting in a drop in vaccination rates of 20% (Photograph: SPL)

A fitness-to-practise panel decided that its findings, including dishonesty and misleading conduct, ‘would not be insufficient to support a finding of serious professional misconduct'.

The finding by the GMC after two and a half years of investigations is a further nail in the coffin of the anti-MMR lobby.

In April the panel will meet to decide if Dr Wakefield is actually guilty of serious professional misconduct and what restrictions should be imposed on his practice, such as being struck off.

Dr Andrew Wakefield's research findings published in the Lancet in 1998 led to a sharp drop in MMR vaccination rates and a rise in measles cases as well as long arguments between GPs and the parents of babies due for their MMR jabs.

The GMC found that he acted unethically and that his behaviour in respect of the Lancet paper was ‘dishonest and irresponsible'.

He had blood taken from children at his son's birthday party and paid each child £5 ‘for their discomfort', behaviour the panel judged was ‘evidence of a callous disregard'.

East London GP and staunch MMR supporter Dr Mike Fitzpatrick, whose 17-year-old son has autism, said ‘I'm entirely sympathetic to the findings of the GMC verdict but it should have been made 10 years ago.

‘There's been a failure of medical quality control. The paper should never have been submitted, still less published.

‘It's done an enormous amount of damage to patients. Ten years ago we were aiming at vaccination rates of 90%. After the Lancet paper they fell to 70%.'

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