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GP made ‘serious breaches’ in Baby P case, GMC rules

By Nigel Praities

A GP at the centre of the Baby P case made several ‘serious breaches in his professional duty', according to a GMC determination.

The GMC panel found Dr Jerome Ikwueke, a GP in Tottenham, North London, failed to urgently refer the child for assessment, despite noticing a ‘marked change' in Baby Peter's behaviour.

Baby Peter subsequently died aged 17 months in August 2007 after sustained abuse.

The death caused a media storm at the time and has led to increasing scrutiny of the role of GPs in safeguarding vulnerable children. The Department of Health has urged PCTs to audit practices on GPs' attendance at case conferences, while the BMA has also called for GPs to step up their child protection role.

Dr Ikwueke told the GMC that Baby Peter was a ‘sorry sight' and had completely changed from the child he was before.

Despite this, his only action was to book a follow-up appointment for a week later.

‘His changed appearance and demeanour on this occasion, coupled with all that you knew about his past, should have alerted you to the very high likelihood of serious child abuse,' said the determination, released today.

‘Your failure to examine him was not in the best interests of the child, below the standard expected of a reasonably competent general practitioner and was a serious breach of your professional duty to Peter Connelly.'

‘This failure was compounded by your failure to urgently refer him.'

The GMC has now invited submissions to determine whether or not the Dr Ikwueke's fitness to practice is impaired.

GMC Your questions on child protection

Dr Janice Allister and Dr Andrew Mowat answer questions on the procedures practices should have for safeguarding children.