In the afternoon of Friday, 23 March 1996, Dr Geoffrey Fairhurst, General Practitioner and for many years my partner, was struck off by the General Medical Council after a four-day inquiry into his misconduct of medical research. Jean Young, a research colleague based at the practice, Dr M Shah, and myself, both partners in the practice, wrote the letter to the General Medical Council which started the inquiry. Dr Fairhurst was found guilty of gross professional misconduct: specifically, he entered patients in pharmaceutical trials without their consent, altered clinical notes to allow patients to be eligible for inclusion in trials, and instructed our practice nurse to produce false ECG recordings.
Although our relief at this decision was overwhelming, there was little sense of victory, for we were tired, and feared the reaction of our colleagues and friends within the medical profession. At that time to take such action was unprecedented. Since then there have been other cases where doctors have decided to risk their careers to expose wrongdoing within the medical profession.
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