A Test case accusing paediatrician David Southall of psychological damage could open the floodgates to dozens of similar claims by angry parents. A mother, who cannot be named for legal reasons, has won permission to appeal in the House of Lords for the right to sue Professor Southall for damages after he accused her of child abuse.
If successful, the test case could mean up to 120 parents lining up to sue the North Staffordshire doctor. The mother and her son were seen by the paediatrician at the University Hospital of North Staffordshire more than nine years ago when the family’s GP, in East Berkshire, described the young boy as “the most allergic patient I have ever known”. But in 1994, Professor Southall accused the mother in medical records of having Munchausen syndrome by proxy and faking or inducing illness in the child to draw attention to herself. She did not find out about the accusations until 1997, her solicitor Rachael Vasmer said, when she finally saw the medical records.
Her son, now a teenager, was admitted to hospital after Prof Southall said he was at risk of harm. Three months later he was removed from the at-risk register when his condition was properly diagnosed, but his mother claims to have suffered acute anxiety and depression as a result of the allegations.