Imperial absolved of blame

July 7, 2000

Academics who voiced concerns about patient safety at Hammersmith Hospital, London, were not victimised by Imperial College School of Medicine, a government report has concluded.

Two professors, as well as a consultant radiologist and a senior secretary, claimed they had been singled out for whistleblowing at the imaging department of the hospital.

However, an inquiry by Ian Cameron, vice-chancellor of the University of Wales College of Medicine, found that while there were some shortcomings in the college's handling of matters, none of the four complainants had been victimised.

The report was welcomed by Imperial College and health minister John Denham, who said: "I believe it will be in the best interest of the NHS and its patients to draw a line under these events."

However, Peter Dawson, who spent 14 years in the department before voicing concerns about a new X-ray system and other issues two years ago, dubbed it a "cover-up and a whitewash".

Professor Dawson resigned after his suspension by Imperial College, pending internal disciplinary hearings. He said: "I feel utterly depressed to have been victimised, but even more saddened that the powers that be seem intent on doing nothing about it and on not preventing it happening again."

Professor Cameron said there were weaknesses in the way Imperial College handled the affair but concluded that the action taken against Professor Dawson by Imperial College was prompted by his behaviour and the effects it was having on the department.

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