[back] Donegan Fitness to practice hearing 2007

GP in MMR row cleared by GMC

05 Sep 07


By Christian Duffin
A GP who was at the centre of a storm of controversy for her views on the MMR vaccine has been cleared of professional misconduct by the GMC.

Dr Jayne Donegan, a locum from Herne Hill, south London, had been accused by a High Court judge of purveying ‘junk science’ in her opposition to childhood immunisation, which she expressed while giving expert evidence.

The GMC initiated a case against Dr Donegan and considered four counts of alleged serious professional misconduct. They dated to a 2003 High Court case when she appeared as an expert witness on behalf of two mothers, who were resisting attempts by their partners to force their children to have the MMR vaccine.

Last week she was cleared of all charges.

Dr Donegan said of her battle: ‘It was terrible. It took thousands of hours away from my professional and family life. I have been living under stress for three-and-a-half years, worried that I could lose my livelihood. I have tried to help patients with ways to reduce stress but now I know how hard it is.’

The GMC panel said: ‘It was clear from your evidence that your aim is to direct parents to sources of information about immunisation and child health safety to help them make informed choices.’

The mothers she gave evidence for lost their case in 2003 and a subsequent appeal.

The GMC’s ruling last week came in the same week as the Health Protection Agency announced the number of measles cases this year could be even greater than last year’s 12-year high of 756.

The HPA said that from 10 June to 24 August this year alone there were 346 cases.