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AGENDA2005

We were disappointed and distressed by your coverage of the litigation action against our partner Dr Fiona Vernon at the Court of Session in Edinburgh (News, January 22). We believed your newspaper would have been supportive to GPs in their work, rather than being reminiscent of the more sensationalist popular tabloid press.

First, the photograph you display so prominently on your front page was taken without Dr Vernon's permission. In our opinion it would have been more appropriate to seek her permission and co-operation before publishing it.

Second, we feel there is a lack of balance in your very short article. Dr Vernon is a very competent and dedicated GP and trainer who is greatly appreciated and respected by her patients and colleagues in the region. Had you taken the trouble to ascertain some of the facts surrounding the case, you would have learned that this was not as your article suggests a 'barn door' case of meningitis and that there is considerable doubt surrounding the alleged diagnosis.

In fact the case for the defence is very robust indeed, having the full support of the MDDUS. We would have expected that you of all newspapers would recognise this as a situation any GP could find themselves in, given the wrong sort of luck, and to have reported the case with more sensitivity.

As you can imagine this whole business has been a great ordeal to her and she has endured it all with great fortitude. Sadly your ineptitude has added to her anguish. Of all the coverage the case has had in the press your effort has been the most distressing to her.

May we suggest your readers do not want to see their colleagues pilloried for carrying out their duties in good faith. Perhaps it would have been better judgment to have shown some restraint and waited until Dr Vernon was ready to co-operate with you in compiling a balanced report on the case.

Dr I Brown and Dr R Brodie

Thornhill, Dumfries

·Can you please explain your decision

to place, on the front of your newspaper, a photograph of a colleague involved in a negligence claim ('Meningitis case ordeal for GP'). Regardless of the rights or wrongs of the case, I have little doubt the 'ordeal' faced by Dr Vernon has been made significantly worse by your action.

Dr Roger Tisi

Rayleigh, Essex

Editor replies:

It was absolutely not our intention to add to Dr Vernon's anguish and we are concerned that our coverage has caused her additional distress.

Our objective was to bring to the attention of our readers an important news story in a way that was as sympathetic to Dr Vernon's plight as the legal constraints on reporting court cases allow.

Readers will make their own minds up whether Pulse's coverage was sensationalist or lacked

balance but what we can wholeheartedly endorse is the sentiment that neither Pulse nor our readers want to see GPs pilloried for carrying out their duties in good faith.

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