An NHS trust is refusing to identify the surgery where a doctor is working, even though his negligence allowed scores of disabled people to be raped, drugged, assaulted and neglected at two residential homes.
The primary care trust has admitted that Dr X* is working within its boundaries in NHS facilities – possibly as a locum – but it says data protection laws prevent it from identifying the surgery or surgeries where he is working as he is not a partner, salaried GP or a trust employee.
The trust believes the doctor’s current patients have no right to know about the allegations Dr X faced in connection with his time as GP for the notorious Longcare residential homes in south Buckinghamshire in the early 1990s.
The homes were run by a former social worker, Gordon Rowe, who instigated an horrific regime of violence and abuse, which saw adults with learning difficulties raped, sexually assaulted, punished with brutal beatings, neglected, drugged and deprived of food and toiletries for more than 10 years.
The regime was finally exposed in the autumn of 1994, after a council report detailing the abuse was leaked to newspapers.
Dr X was the GP for the two residential homes from 1990 until after Rowe and his wife were forced to leave the company. Dr X is now practising in a different NHS area.
The alleged neglect is detailed in a new book, Longcare Survivors: The Biography of a Care Scandal, by John Pring, editor of Disability News Service.
The book describes how Dr X repeatedly over-prescribed powerful sedatives for residents, failed to spot signs of neglect and ill-treatment such as severe weight loss and bruises, failed to act over signs of sexual abuse, such as vaginal discharge and anal bleeding, and kept almost no records of treatment, even though he visited the homes every week.
There were also serious concerns about his repeated prescriptions of contraceptive injections for a number of women who were at the time being raped by Gordon Rowe.
One former member of Longcare staff remembers watching Dr X line up Rowe’s favoured female residents and delivering the injections one after the other, without even talking to the women and while continuing to chat to Rowe, who was in the reception area.
June Raybaud, the aunt of one of the former residents of the homes, Janet Ward, who was repeatedly raped by Gordon Rowe and has now died, said she believed the doctor’s failure to act was “the biggest scandal of all”.
Raybaud said: “This doctor apparently saw them all every week. He could have noticed how they were losing weight… a lot of the women had discharges and the men had bleeding from the anus.
“A lot of people had similar things wrong with them. They were obviously suffering from malnutrition, boils and things wrong with their feet and teeth.
“He could see how poorly they were dressed, how their hygiene was bad and he never did anything about it. He really didn’t care.”
Slough’s Labour MP Fiona Mactaggart has raised concerns about the General Medical Council’s (GMC) failure to conduct a proper investigation into the care provided by Dr X at Longcare.
In January 2011, she wrote to the GMC, stating that the documents shown to her by Pring “raise very serious issues about [Dr X’s] fitness to practice”, and asking it to investigate.
The GMC had already refused three times to carry out a full and proper investigation into the allegations against Dr X. It told Mactaggart that it would “not… be appropriate” to open another investigation.
Mactaggart has now asked the government what its policy is on the rights of patients and members of the public to know where a locum GP is working within the NHS.
But the Conservative health minister Simon Burns stated only that “the place of work of locums can and does change frequently depending on who has contracted for their services”.
A Department of Health spokeswoman said this week: “PCTs are not required to reveal where any of their staff, whether directly employed or engaged through commissioning arrangements, work.
“The PCT’s remit is to ensure that they are commissioning and delivering the most effective services for their patients. We cannot comment on individual cases.”
The primary care trust declined to comment.
Rowe committed suicide in 1996 before he could be charged, but three former members of Longcare staff – including Rowe’s widow Angela – were convicted of neglect and ill-treatment. Angela and another former Longcare manager were jailed in 1997.
*His name is currently being withheld by Disability News Service