When Dr Lockerbie was appointed as the investigator, Dr Stephenson expressed his anxiety that the investigation would coincide with Dr Bower working in the practice. On 7th March Bevan Brittan, the PCT’s solicitors wrote
Dr Lockerbie then conducted his formal investigation at Bow Surgery for the three days 12-14th March. Dr Lockerbie expressed awareness of the danger of off-the-record discussions with Dr Bower, commenting, according to the transcript of the 19th March hearing,
The investigation resulted in a report which included unfounded allegations not mentioned in Dr Bower’s interview transcript. On Saturday 15th March, Dr Lockerbie emailed his draft report to the PCT and SHA, asking for comments.
The final version of his report was dated 17th March and was used in all the hearings. The text of the draft and final versions was almost identical - with one important exception which is shown below:
These missing words were used to describe an off-the-record discussion that, according to Dr Lockerbie’s own testimony to the suspension panel, did not happen. Furthermore, according to investigation guidelines and the lawyers’ assurances (see above), it should not have happened. It is not clear who recommended that these words be removed from the draft report
It can only be assumed that many of the unfounded allegations came from off-the-record discussion. Dr Stephenson has never been allowed access to the notes of any such discussion, so has been unable to contest all the allegations. Dr Lockerbie referred to Dr Bower’s allegations in subsequent hearings and has since admitted that some were based on hearsay evidence.
This is how the PCT panel concluded their hearing:
The Panel has relied upon the strength of the process and investigation undertaken by Dr Lockerbie. Dr Lockerbie is very competent and hard working. The Panel has not relied upon Dr Bower’s evidence, given the difficult relationship between the two of them. The Panel’s decision [to suspend Dr Stephenson] is based upon Dr Lockerbie’s evidence.”
This conclusion is undermined by the fact that much of Dr Lockerbie’s evidence was wrong, some of it arising from unchallenged off-the-record allegations.
Concerning the writing of reports, the General Medical Council states in its advice on doctors’ probity
“You must do your best to make sure that any documents you write or sign are not false or misleading. This means that you must take reasonable steps to verify the information in the documents, and that you must not deliberately leave out relevant information.
Dr Lockerbie later conceded that his report was “hurried” and recommended that a second investigation be conducted. Yet this did not take place until five months later, in August 2008. The report of this second investigation, despite also containing many factual errors, was more balanced and did not agree with many of Dr Lockerbie’s comments.
Update June 2012
: According to Dr Lockerbie
) his new role as Medical Director of NHS Devon and Responsible Officer is to ensure that "all investigations are conducted in such a way that fairness, appropriate rigor (sic), consistency and support are ensured in all cases
". In this he is still assisted by Kevin Hale
(Assistant Director Primary Care (Performance) – NHS Devon)
As of 1st April 2015, Dr Lockerbie is no longer a Medical Director for NHS England
Sept 2015: GMC rejects Dr Lockerbie’s complaint about this website's content, which he describes as: “6+ years of paranoid nonsense”.
See Dr Lockerbie talk about his Dartmouth Practice