22 Jul 2011

Doctor suspended after concerns over epilepsy treatment

A hospital in Guildford informs parents of 569 children with epilepsy that there will be a review into their treatment going back nine years, after a doctor was suspended from duties.

Royal Surrey County Hospital

The review of the treatment given by consultant paediatrician Dr Nicholas Driver since he joined The Royal Surrey County Hospital in 2002 follows concerns raised by one of his colleagues in February.

Dr Driver was suspended from working with children with epilepsy the next day, before being suspended from all hospital duties two weeks later.

The hospital said none of the children had died as a result of the treatment.

However, Dr Christopher Tibbs, who is leading the review, stressed that Dr Driver’s treatment was “not malicious”, and that he was “not trying to harm children”.

“It’s not abuse. He’s not in that bracket at all,” Dr Tibbs said.

Dr Tibbs would not talk about the specifics of the case but said the review will look into diagnoses and treatment, following concerns about “the totality of the management of the patient”.

It’s not abuse. He’s not in that bracket at all, Dr Christopher Tibbs, Royal Surrey County Hospital

The General Medical Council said it is aware of the review and is deciding if it needed to take any further action.

Hospital chief executive Dr Nick Moberly said: “It is important to stress that the review is to establish the facts of what may or may not have happened, but I am very aware of the concern this review will cause.”

“Our absolute priority is to provide as much support as possible for patients and families through this difficult time,” Dr Moberly added.

The hospital urged parents not to change their children’s medication without seeking expert advice, and have set up a dedicated helpline for members of the public.

“Our priority now is to ensure that the case notes review is concluded as quickly as possible and that we ensure that the patients affected receive the ongoing care and support they need,” Dr Tibbs said.

The review group will report back in August.

Dr Driver, who is in his 40s, has been suspended on full pay and will be reinstated if the review finds no concerns.

A helpline has been set up for concerned members of the public on 01483 408379 or visit the hospital's website here.