Thursday, 4 February 2010
In October 2006 two young children on holiday in Corfu died from carbon monoxide poisoning in their room. Two Britons from the holiday company are due to face trial on charges of negligence. It is possible that they will receive custodial sentences of around five years if they are found guilty.
Meanwhile, in 2008, a British patient in Cambridgeshire was 'unlawfully killed' after receiving an overdose of diamorphine ten times the normal amount by a locum with poor English language skills working his first NHS shift. The doctor first applied for work in Leeds but was rejected because he did not speak English sufficiently well. He was later approved to work for the NHS in Cornwall when his language skills were not assessed. Acceptance in one area of the country allowed him to work in other areas without further evaluation.
The doctor returned to Germany where a court in 2009 awarded a nine-month prison sentence suspended for two years and ordered him to pay a fine of £4500 for causing death through negligence. The doctor continues to work as a cosmetic surgeon in Germany and the conviction means that he cannot be extradited to answer charges in the UK.
The family of the dead man is appealing to the European Court of Human Rights.
Both cases are tragic and should never have occurred but there is a huge disparity in the way they have been and are being judged.