Victims of disgraced gynaecologist Richard Neale have praised the Northern Echo – which was the first newspaper to turn the spotlight on his activities back in 1993.
The 52-year-old consultant and former surgeon was found guilty by a General Medical Council hearing of a catalogue of errors over two decades.
They accepted as proved allegations that he had performed operations without consent, performed sub-standard surgery and unnecessary procedures and failed to inform his patients’ GPs of complications resulting for his incompetence.
Women, who were left in agonising pain after complications following surgery, said Neale became abusive when they complained. Many of them are now calling for criminal charges to be brought against Neale, and they also want a public inquiry.
The GMC’s decision received front page coverage by the Northern Echo’s health correspondent Barry Nelson. In the centre of the same edition of the Darlington-based daily broadsheet were four pages of background and follow-ups.
Victim Sheila Wright-Hogeland, herself a former journalist, praised the Northern Echo for first writing about Neale in 1993.
She said: “We owe a great deal to the Northern Echo for pursuing the story and exposing each development.”
She added: “I have to say that if this man is stopped, the Northern Echo has been to a very great extent responsible for stopping him – because it was the Echo that followed it from day one.”
Campaigner Carole Millward, another victim, said: “We have got justice at last but we have had to kick and scream and fight to get this result. If it was not for the Northern Echo we would not be here now.”
The two women knew of eight women who has complained about Neale when they asked the Echo to publish a telephone number for their campaign group. On the first day they heard from 25 more women. The group now has more than 130 members.
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