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HOSPITAL THREATENS TO SUE MP

27-12-2006

Birmingham MP John Hemming has been threatened with legal action by a Midlands hospital - for trying to help parents get access to secret medical records about their children.

Hemming, who represents Yardley, has been campaigning to get justice for families whose youngsters were the subject of experiments by controversial medic Dr David Southall.

The research - which in some cases involved stoppingchildren breathing - was often conducted without parental consent, and there are fears that the health of some of those involved may have been seriously affected.

Under pressure from Hemming, North Staffordshire Hospital in Stoke which employs Southall, recently started merging what it calls “special medical files” (ie secret files) with ordinary medical records.

This means that mums and dads are now in a position to find out more about what happened to their children.

The catch is that unless they are aware of the recent change and know what was done to their kids in the first place, they wouldn't even think to ask about old medical records which in some cases go back to the 80's.

With more than 4,000 children affected by this issue, Hemming wanted North Staffs to write to every family who might find the information useful.

The hospital disagreed and took advice on the MP's threat of going to a judicial review. Now they are threateningto sue him for their legal fees.

“I've told them to go forth and multiply,” said Hemming. “I think they should ‘fess up to parents about whatthey've done and not be issuing threats.

“It's absurd to think of a government department ie the NHS taking legal action against an elected member of parliament for trying to find out the truth.”

Dr Southall (along with Professor Roy Meadows) been one of the leading advocates of Munchausens Syndrome By Proxy, the condition in which parents are alleged to harm their children in order to draw attention to themselves.

His evidence helped to falsely convict solicitor Sally Clark for murdering her baby sons, for which he was subsequently banned from working in the field of child protection for three years.

Southall is widely credited with a medical breakthrough that helped reduce the number of babies who died from cot death, but his research methods have long been the subject of debate both inside and outside the medical profession.

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