Doctors ban parents for refusing MMR jabs

Sunday Express March 4, 2001 

PARENTS claim they have been struck off by GPs for refusing to have their children inoculated with the controversial measles, mumps and rubella jab.

They say bullying doctors have accused them of being "murderers" or made claims such as "your child is going to die" to force them to comply.

A Sunday Express investigation has found that parents are increasingly being put under duress to give their children the triple MMR jab despite fears it may trigger autism or stomach disorders.

One GP recently banned two sisters from his practice after they refused to let him inoculate their children.

Donna Mary Donald, 31, from Lanarkshire, was sent a letter which stated that she should find another doctor after she refused the jab for her 22-month-old daughter, Kelsie.

Kelsie suffers high temperature fits and Ms Donald had been told by a child specialist at her hospital that the jab could cause damage. He advised her to wait until her daughter’s fits had disappeared.

But when she phoned her GP to explain, he dismissed the concerns as "poppycock".

Her sister Sandra Donald, 29, who lives nearby, was also struck off over her son Bailey, three. She did not want him to have the jab because he is allergic to eggs arid milk and some experts believe this can put children at higher risk from adverse reactions to MMR.

Under the current law a doctor can remove a patient from his register and not give a reason.

GPs also have a financial incentive to get youngsters vaccinated. The Government pays them extra if’ they can get 70 per cent of children immunised and even more if they achieve a 90 per cent target.

Dr Kathleen Long, Medical Director of the Lanarkshire Primary Care Trust, said cash was not an issue in the case concerning the Donald family.

She said: "Our understanding is that the doctor had met his target for MMR vaccination. Therefore there would be no financial gain to him striking patients off his list for refusing MMR. He has assured the Trust that he currently has patients who remain on his list despite declining the vaccination."

Another parrent; Andy Karpesea Jones, from Nottingham, was struck off by three different GPs for refusing to inoculate his children Jacinta, four, and Jerrica, three.

Mr Karpasea-Jones, 26, said his family was bullied very badly. He added:

"The first doctor told us our children would die if we didn’t give the vaccine. When we categorically refused, he called us child abusers. We were eventually struck off the list. We had the same trouble with two other doctors —one just shouted me out of the door. They weren’t prepared to discuss our concerns."

Andy, who has since found a sympathetic GP, has set up the Vaccination Awareness Network to support parents with similar problems.

A mother who did not want to give her name said her local practice admitted there was purely a financial reason for taking her son off the register after she refused the jab. It has agreed to treat the boy as a visiting patient.

Magda Taylor from the campaigning group The Informed Parent, said:

"This is outrageous and is taking away people’s freedom of choice."

Richard Halvorsen a London GP who believes in giving parents a choice about vaccines, said: "I have strong reservations about a system which gives financial incentives for doctors to do something which many other doctors have concerns about."