Wimmin’s Wellbeing – The Fortnum and Mason Connection

Just thought I’d write a quick post about one of Professor Geoffrey Chamberlain’s colleagues and friends.

Introducing Sir George Pinker, Royal gynaecologist and obstetrician. George Douglas Pinker was born in 1924 in Calcutta, the second son of Queenie and Ronald Pinker, a horticulturalist who worked for Sutton’s Seeds.

Pinker was educated at Reading School. He did his medical training at St Mary’s Hospital Medical School, Paddington, qualifying in 1947. Although a talented singer, Pinker turned down a contract with the D’Oyly Carte Opera Company to pursue a career in medicine. The Queen Mum – Gawd Bless ‘Er –  attended at least one of his operatic performances at St Mary’s, in her capacity as Patron of both the hospital and the medical school, accompanied by the two young princesses, Lilibet and Ma’am Darling.

‘Have you come far?’

The Esoteric Curiosa: The "King" Of Mustique's Last Call ...

 

Pinker served his National Service in the RAMC in Singapore, where he did much of his specialist training under Benjamin Henry Sheares. Returning to civilian life at the Radcliffe Infirmary in Oxford in 1958, Pinker was appointed a consultant in obstetrics and gynaecology to St. Mary’s Hospital and Samaritan Hospital for Women, both of which he served for the next 31 years. He later also held the position of consulting gynaecological surgeon to the Middlesex Hospital; Soho Hospital for Women; Bolingbroke Hospital, Battersea; and the Radcliffe Infirmary from 1969-80.

Gwynne the lobotomist trained at the Middlesex Hospital and was of a similar vintage to Pinker. Geoffrey Chamberlain’s wife Jocelyn worked at the Middlesex for many years.

Pinker was involved with the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists for decades. He served as Honorary Treasurer, 1970-77; was elected Vice-President in 1980 and then served as President, 1987-90. Sir Stanley Simmons succeeded Pinker as President, then in 1993 dear old Chamberlain succeeded Simmons. Chamberlain had to resign in 1994 after being caught in that research fraud with Malcolm Pearce (see post ‘I Don’t Believe It!’). I have previously speculated that it was Chamberlain’s influential friends who ensured that Pearce took the rap for everything – Malcolm was struck off, but Chamberlain didn’t even find himself in front of the GMC. It won’t have been Chamberlain’s mate Cilla who pulled those particular strings, it will have been somebody with connections to far grander people than she who loved Liverpool so much that she lived in a mansion in Buckinghamshire.

Pinker was a past President of the British Fertility Society and his wiki entry states that he ‘supported the research that led to the birth in 1978 of Louise Brown, the first test-tube baby’.

I’m wondering how true this is – Patrick Steptoe and Robert Edwards were outcasts until virtually the day that Louise Brown was born, it’s why the research wasn’t done in the grand institutions in London. Patrick Steptoe was very bitter about this and had a public spat with Robert Winston, because Winston opposed Steptoe and Edwards’s work but once Louise was born, Robert Winston jumped on the bandwagon and became the guru of IVF himself.

Now how did Robert Winston manage to colonise the field so successfully when he had opposed the research and had not built up experience in the field? Could it have had anything to do with Winston working at Hammersmith Hospital/Royal Postgraduate Medical School, part of the University of London, over which Lord Brian Flowers – a man originally from Swansea – wielded so much influence (see post ‘The White Heat Of This Revolution’)? Flowers ruled supreme as VC of the entire University of London, 1985-90, but his particular domain was the Royal Postgraduate Medical School and Imperial College. The subsequent mergers of various institutions in London resulted in many of the ‘leading’ medical researchers being brought under the umbrella of the Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine, including the bunch at Hammersmith Hospital/RPMS. After Oinker’s mate Chamberlain had retired from the NHS, Chamberlain took up a lecturing job at Swansea University.

Here’s Lord Flowers of serious organised crime, with an admirer:

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My first thought when I read that Pinker had been behind Steptoe and Edwards all the way was that history was being rewritten. However, Bob Edwards did his PhD in the Zoology Dept at dear old UCNW (Bangor University). It took Bangor decades before they dared admit that Bob Edwards had been a student of theirs – we used to roll around laughing as year after year, the Bangor prospectus boasted about their famous old boy Roger Whittacker. ‘I Don’t Want To Leave Old Durham Town’. Well Eric Sunderland did precisely that when he was called back to Paedophilia Central in 1984, when Dafydd et al were in need of reinforcements and Eric was installed as Principal/VC at UCNW (see post ‘Feet In Chains’). If I’d have known that Eric was a paedophiles’ friend every bit as bad as the rest of them I’d have gatecrashed his funeral and whistled ‘The Last Farewell’ a la Roger as his body was consigned to the dust.

I wonder if the paedophiles’ friends quietly capitalised on Bob Edwards’s fame after Louise’s birth, even if they wouldn’t publicly acknowledge him?  Carlo was Chancellor of UCNW and William and Harry were both delivered by George Pinker. I wouldn’t put it past any of these multi-faceted tossers to have maxed out on Steptoe and Edwards behind the scenes, whether Pinker really did support Steptoe and Edwards’s early work or not.

 

No it wasn’t, that’s why people in north Wales were found dead, lest the identities of certain well-connected dirty old men were ever revealed.

Dr Dafydd Alun Jones

Pinker was the Queen’s surgeon-gynaecologist, 1973-90 and attended nine royal births.

I distinctly remember that when Diana’s pregnancy with William was announced, comments from the Palace at the time implied that William would be born at the Palace – as previous heirs to the throne always had been. There was discussion among old lefties that the Palace had better facilities than some NHS hospitals. However, before long it was announced that William would be born at the Lindo Wing, St Mary’s. Pinker’s wiki entry gives us some indication of why there was a rapid change of plan.

Pinker was head consultant in the Lindo wing.

 Furthermore, we are told that ‘Pinker’s involvement had begun after a melodramatic gesture by the Princess, who was three months pregnant but whose relationship with her husband was already unravelling. She threw herself down a staircase at Sandringham in January 1982; while a local doctor was summoned, Pinker left London to attend to his Royal patient and found that although she had suffered severe bruising, the foetus was uninjured.’

Diana herself later described this ‘melodramatic gesture’ as a suicide attempt. It may only have been a half-hearted one, but it has now been admitted that by the time that she chucked herself down the Royal staircase, Diana was incredibly distressed. At the time, a statement was given to the media claiming that Diana had ‘fallen down the stairs’, but ‘the baby was unharmed’. I had a friend who was very angry that there had been no public statement regarding the health of the person who was gestating the unharmed foetus. Now we know why – she was distraught.

Pinker’s wiki entry tells us that Pinker ‘had been under pressure’ from Diana to induce William, but Pinker insisted that birth was a natural process. One wonders if Pinker should have listened to his patient because wiki tells us that ‘it was a difficult labour…it lasted 16 hours and at one stage Pinker and his medical team considered performing an emergency Caesarean section, but in the event the Princess gave birth naturally to a boy weighing 7 lb 10 oz’.

What I remember about the Royal birth was that afterwards Carlo appeared in front of the TV cameras looking quite freaked out and asked for the cheering mob outside of the hospital to please belt up because Diana needed to crash out. I wondered at the time if that had been a birth which had nearly gone badly wrong and my suspicions were confirmed when Diana took a rather long time to emerge for the obligatory photo-shoot with the baby on the hospital steps. Someone had obviously spent a great deal of time on Diana’s hair, clothes, make-up etc, but nonetheless, she looked rough. She had huge black rings around her eyes. In fact Diana looked a lot more the worse for wear than any new mother I ever saw whilst I worked on the delivery suite at St George’s.

Carlo then made some very Charlesish comments and ‘praised the drug companies’ which manufactured the pain-killers used in labour on the grounds that women might not want their husbands with them whilst they delivered if they did not have access to pain relief.

Er – did Diana sock Carlo one perhaps, among much cursing re his hobnobbing with Camilla? It was not the fairy-tale marriage that we were told that it was, but luckily George Oinker was on hand to tell the silly girl what was what. And to nearly fuck-up the Royal birth.

Then there were the media reports alleging that after William’s birth, Diana was rowing with Carlo and stating that there was no way that she was going through that again, when Carlo mentioned the necessity of a spare to go with the heir.

Did anyone call in a different Top Doctor, one who perhaps could reassure Diana that the next time the delivery would be handled differently? No of course they didn’t. When Diana became pregnant with Harry, Oinker was called straight back in and it was off to Lindo Wing again.

I wondered what sort of history as a Top Doc Oinker had when some time after the Royal birth, it was reported that a madwoman had threatened to kill Oinker. Poor old Oinker was so frightened and the threats from the Bertha Mason character were taken so seriously that Oinker was given police protection. It was reported that Oinker had performed a hysterectomy on Bertha, that Bertha ‘blamed him for the loss of her organs’ and – being insane – had threatened to kill him. I think that Bertha had ‘spent time in a mental hospital’. Bertha was subsequently banged up for life.

It sounds to me as though Bertha was very angry with Oinker. As for ‘blaming him for the loss of her organs’ – well he was to blame, Oinker performed the hysterectomy, it wasn’t the gardener who did it. I know of a former North Wales Hospital Denbigh patient who was sterilised without her informed consent because ‘if we don’t, she’ll get pregnant’. She certainly would have, the staff were shagging her. I knew that patient myself, but I bet that there were many more like her. The patient in question had been ‘under’ – probably literally – this Top Doctor when she was sterilised without her consent:

Dr Dafydd Alun Jones

 

Oinker’s mate Geoffrey Chamberlain was concealing the paedophile ring which the above was facilitating.

Now would someone care to find out why the Madwoman in the Attic was so bloody angry with Oinker, what the circumstances were when he operated upon her and how serious the threats towards him really were? Because some of Oinker’s friends were concealing the organised sexual abuse of children, mental health patients and people with learning disabilities.

Oinker had many very rich patients in his Harley Street practice, including scores from the middle east. When I worked at St George Hospital Medical School’s, one of the Top Doctors told me that his mate in Harley Street was performing FGM, although it had been outlawed for years by then.

Anyone for prosecuting some Somali women from Cardiff?

Pinker married former Angel Dorothy Russell in London in 1951. The couple had four children: Catherine and Ian (twins), Robert and William. The junior Oinkers will no doubt be occupying influential positions somewhere, defending Oinker’s reputation.

There is a Prof Robert Pinker who is a social policy specialist. He has held Chairs at Goldsmiths College; Chelsea College and the LSE. Prof Pinker was formerly the acting Chair of the Press Complaints Commission. He is too young to be Oinker’s son, but I’m wondering if he might be Oinker’s brother…

Oinker was Assistant Concert Director of Reading Symphony Orchestra and then in 1988 Vice-President of the London Choral Society. Oinker died in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire in 2007.

In 1964 Oinker and ‘several distinguished colleagues’ founded the Childbirth Research Centre. Changing its name to Birthright in 1972, it is now known as Wellbeing of Women. Somehow Oinker persuaded Diana to become a Patron in 1984.

The aim of the charity was to reduce the number of women and babies who died during pregnancy and childbirth. So Wellbeing of Women is not doing too well is it. An early donation funded research which ‘established that a deficiency in folic acid was a factor in malformed babies’. Pregnant women across the world now take folic acid supplements. I described in my post ‘Feet In Chains’ how in the 1990s, the GPs in Bethesda religiously prescribed folic acid for all women who were trying to become pregnant, whilst ignoring reports of child abuse as well as the destitution and abuse of mental health patients.

The charity also ‘funded crucial research into epidurals which means that millions of women now benefit from a relatively pain-free birth’. Or at least they do if there is an anaesthetist available, which is not always the case in UK maternity units.

One early piece of research funded by Oinker’s charity into the diagnosis of Down’s Syndrome ‘helped make the amniocentesis test more accurate’. That test carries with it a risk of miscarriage. Women were also refused the test if they refused to abort their baby if it did have Down’s.

Oinker’s charity also ‘discovered a link between smoking and pre-eclampsia and babies being born underweight’. Which is worth knowing, but there was that patient at St George’s who’s pre-eclampsia wasn’t managed properly, so it developed into eclampsia. She died in the hospital after a junior doctor screwed up, so Oinker’s mate Geoffrey Chamberlain held an investigation and blamed a midwife.

We are told that Diana ‘was devoted to the charity, explaining: ‘To long for a baby and not to be able to have one must be devastating. I don’t know how I would cope with that. And if my work for Birthright can alleviate that suffering for just one couple, it will have been all worthwhile.’

There are people who now have happy families as a result of advances in fertility treatment which is great. There are also many couples who have spent many thousands of pounds on fertility treatment which Top Docs knew was unlikely to be successful and who have never come to terms with not having children, because no-one helped them with that bit. There are however a number of Top Docs who have become very, very rich on the profits from their fertility clinics. See my post ‘Every Sperm Is Sacred – Particularly In Scotland’.

In the 1980s, whilst Diana was Patron of what was then Birthright, Professor Stuart Campbell of King’s College, London, received funding from Oinker’s charity for a project that developed an ultrasound that would identify babies at risk of stillbirth by finding out if they had abnormal blood flow. Stuart Campbell was drafted in as Prof and Head of the Academic Dept of Obs and Gynae at St George’s after that embarrassing research fraud committed by Chamberlain and Pearce. Another scandal subsequently blew up involving Stuart Campbell and the Dept was closed down. The sex trafficking ring that the whole lot of them were facilitating wasn’t closed down.

During the 1990s, Oinker’s mates ‘funded research into contraception’. Dr Cathy Wilson’s mass slaughter of rats and careful examination of their brains at St George’s was allegedly directed towards researching improved contraceptive methods. Had Cathy not been an idiot, it might have all been worth it, but no, I don’t think that Cathy was going to make any medical advances.

Oinker’s charity was renamed Wellbeing of Women in 2004. Wellbeing of Women partnered with 100 Women in Hedge Funds to fund a project which ‘advanced our understanding of the genetics of cerebral palsy’. Cerebral palsy is often a result of births which have been mismanaged. Some of the negligence settlements in such cases run into millions. I wonder if Oinker et al thought that it might be worth flagging up the alleged genetic contribution to such conditions in order to ease the strain on the Top Doctors in court?

There were two babies born at St David’s Hospital in Bangor in the early 1980s with severe cerebral palsy. Both deliveries were done by the same Top Doc, St David’s denied all responsibility and neither family received a penny in compensation. The Top Doc then screwed up a delivery so badly that the baby died. The Top Doc left to begin a new career in Australia, which I am told was very successful. The baby in north Wales remained dead.

The charity also ‘funded research that helped reverse brain damage in newborn babies’. Bloody hell – Oinker’s lot found a way of ‘reversing brain damage’??? Well why haven’t they been awarded a Nobel prize? Why hasn’t anybody heard of these people? Are they just so modest that they have shunned the publicity?

Oinker et al funded a project ‘that helped women suffering from recurrent miscarriage go on to have a successful pregnancy, by identifying ‘Natural Killer cells’ in the mother’s immune system.

Risley Remand Centre had lots of Natural Killer Cells, the victims of Dafydd et al were found dead in them constantly (see post ‘ Include Me Out’).

In 2007, Gordon Brown’s wife Sarah became Patron of Wellbeing of Women. In 2007 Gordon Brown appointed Baroness Patricia Scotland QC as Attorney General. Scotland acted as Counsel for the Welsh Office at the Waterhouse Inquiry and cross-examined the victims of Dafydd and the paedophiles so aggressively that some of them collapsed. ‘Nuff said.

In 2008, Wellbeing of Women was announced as one of the beneficiary charities of the Lord Mayor’s Appeal, along with ORBIS. Prince William was Patron of the appeal. Funds raised from the appeal ‘enabled Wellbeing of Women to establish the Baby Bio Bank, a unique international resource storing genetic data from ‘family trios’ of mother, father and baby. This bank of genetic information will facilitate on-going research into the persistent complications of pregnancy and birth, including miscarriage, premature birth and pre-eclampsia’.

That was 10 years ago. We’re still waiting…

In March 2013, Wellbeing of Women launched a major new partnership with PwC. PwC are long term sponsors of two of Wellbeing of Women’s flagship events – the Annual Women’s Lunch Debate and Annual Celebrity Cricket Match. In 2013 PwC broadened and increased their support of Wellbeing of Women, by supporting two Wellbeing of Women funded researchers.

Wellbeing of Women has an ongoing partnership with BHS. Karen Brady designed a collection of workwear dresses to be sold at BHS in aid of the charity in 2012  and in 2013, Emma Forbes launched another collection of dresses to be sold in aid of the charity.

Frocks – it’s what the little ladies are really interested in. And of course ‘role models’ like Baroness Karen Brady, who began her career flogging advertising space for a porn baron and who was investigated by the Met for white-collar crime (see post ‘The Bloody State We’re In’).

In December 2011, in the run-up to the 2012 Summer Olympics, Clara Maidment shot a charity calendar in aid of Wellbeing of Women. Twelve British female sporting celebrities posed in the lingerie of Nichole de Carle, wearing jewellery by Samila Hughes and Coster Diamonds. I have no idea who any of these people are and I don’t know whether Coster Diamonds is the name of a human being or a brand of gem stone. Neither can I be bothered to look it up.

Wellbeing of Women runs a series of Literary Lunches at Fortnum & Mason, which features a prominent author in conversation with Eve Pollard or Baroness Jenkin of Kennington. Previous authors have included PD James, Barbara Taylor Bradford, Penny Vincenzi, Julian Fellowes and Ffion Hague.

Ffion worked as a civil servant in the Welsh Office while that dept concealed the crimes of Dafydd and the paedophiles and her husband William organised the cover-up which was the Waterhouse Inquiry when he was Secretary of State for Wales.

Wellbeing of Very Posh Women also run a series called ‘An Audience with…’ at Fortnum and Mason.

Wellbeing of Very Posh Women is the beneficiary charity of the Inspirational Women of the Year Awards, which are run in association with the ‘Daily Mail’ and in 2012 were sponsored by Sanctuary Spa. I do hope that the Inspirational Women remember to read the ‘Daily Mail’ regularly, with its constant offering of scare stories about cancer, misunderstood reporting of research, invention of new parts of the body, such as ‘side boobs’ and advice on how to avoid cellulite and other medical conditions invented by women’s magazines. Then for a bonus the Inspirational Women can log onto Mail Online and take a look at the Side Bar of Shame with its photos of the 15 yr old children of celebs in swimwear who are now all grown up and showing off their curves. 

On 12 October 2011, the Right Rev Vincent Nichols gave the first annual Sir George Pinker Memorial Address for Wellbeing of Women. Vincent Nichols was the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Birmingham, 2000-09 and is currently Archbishop of Westminster.

While he was Archbishop of Birmingham, Nichols had to respond to the sexual abuse cases that were alleged in that diocese. Among Nichols’s first public acts in his role as Archbishop of Westminster was a statement on the issue of clerical physical and sexual abuse in Ireland. In his own words: ‘Every time there is a single incident of abuse in the Catholic Church it is a scandal. And I’m glad it’s a scandal’. He was, however criticised widely on the issue of priests facing up to their crimes, where he claimed, ‘That takes courage and also we shouldn’t forget that this account today will also overshadow all of the good that they also did’.

And Dafydd’s helped a lot of people. And I misunderstood him. And when they say no they mean yes.

‘There is no evidence of a paedophile ring in north Wales which was concealed at a high level.’

 

Carlo
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Mick Jagger was awarded a knighthood in Lilibet’s Birthday honours in 2002. Lilibet allegedly refused to meet him, so Carlo knighted him in 2003.

 

Bill Wyman and Mandy Smith:

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Bottoms Up!

Old Warwickians - 1940s-1960s School House Dinner

 

An Eton Mess:

Vision’s Eton Mess highlights all the worst aspects of ...

 

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They reckoned without:

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Every Sperm Is Sacred – Particularly In Scotland

The Scottish Government have announced that it will agree to fund three cycles of IVF for couples having difficulty conceiving and Aileen Campbell, Scotland’s Public Health Minister, has been crowing about this and how much better and more generous the NHS in Scotland therefore is than the rest of the UK https://www.theguardian.com/society/2017/mar/24/scottish-government-to-fund-three-cycles-of-ivf

In recent years there has been an open debate regarding the questionable claims made by some fertility clinics concerning the success rates of their various procedures and it is well-known that the owners of many of these clinics have become seriously rich – fertility treatment is one area of medicine in which literally millions can be raked in. There are a lot of people with fertility problems who will make very big sacrifices in order to fund fertility treatment privately or exert huge pressure on the NHS to fund such treatment and now that fertility clinics no longer refuse to treat single parents or gay couples the market is huge. This is why fertility clinics cover their walls with photos of the babies that have resulted from their ‘successes’ – and anyway they would never dare photograph their ‘failures’, it would simply be too gruesome.

The science behind fertility treatment is awesome and it’s interesting to see how fertility treatment, including IVF, has now been completely embraced by the medical establishment. Yet when Patrick Steptoe and Bob Edwards were carrying out the research that underpinned IVF in the 1970s they faced huge opposition with swathes of the scientific and medical establishment making it clear that they were not considered in the least bit acceptable. It took them a very long time to be recognised for their work – Patrick Steptoe died before the really big accolades were awarded, although Bob Edwards was eventually knighted and awarded a Nobel prize. Patrick Steptoe was known to have felt very sore about the way that he and Edwards had been cold-shouldered and he never forgave a lot of people. There is film-footage available of Steptoe getting very angry indeed with Robert Winston – now Lord Winston – because although Winston himself later became the UKs most well-known fertility specialist, he had actually been one of the people who had opposed Steptoe and Edwards’s early work. Edwards was actually a graduate of Bangor University (although when he studied there it was still known as University College of North Wales), but for decades the University didn’t mention him – instead it was always Roger Whittacker no less who was mentioned on the PR material as a famous old boy. In the past few years however, it does seem to have dawned on Bangor that they educated a man who made scientific history and these days they do own up to having had him there as an undergrad.

After the birth of the first ‘IVF baby’ Louise Brown in 1978 however, IVF was speedily embraced by the medical establishment. By the time that I was working in London medical schools in the late 1980s, absolutely everybody in every hospital across the country wanted an IVF unit. They were always very frank about the reason why – because it would bring in money. Private clinics were run as businesses and very profitable ones at that, but NHS hospitals were all tripping over themselves to establish a unit offering IVF to private patients as well, because it was perceived to be a way of raising funds for research or to subsidise IVF for NHS patients. There were undoubtedly some very genuine people whose plans for their IVF units were quite altruistic – the unfairness of a situation in which IVF was unavailable to people without money was a constant topic of conversation and Thatcher’s Government was extremely hostile to universities and had slashed research funding to such an extent that people were desperately trying to think up ways of compensating for the lost income. In addition, bog standard district general hospitals who had no research interests at all also wanted IVF units – to confer status upon themselves.

The enthusiasm for establishing fertility units in the late 80s/early 90s had consequences. District general hospitals like Ysbyty Gwynedd were flailing around in an area of medicine in which they had absolutely no expertise and very often just did not know what they were doing. The success rates were very, very low indeed. Furthermore, some business people with ‘a doctor in the family’ then hit upon the idea of establishing a fertility clinic. And because success rates were unimpressive even in the best clinics and the patients were desperate people made vulnerable by their longing for a baby and rarely had any knowledge of the science underpinning fertility treatment, those patients were ripe for exploitation by unscrupulous practitioners – and of course the medical establishment being what it was and still is, no-one reigned those practitioners in, although there was widespread concern about a lot of what was going on. As ever in medicine, there was just a very effective grapevine that warned people away from working with certain people and certain clinics, just as a grapevine is still in operation warning psychiatrists not to take a job in north Wales.

I soon discovered the grim underbelly of fertility treatment when I was working in London. I had a number of contacts and friends who were employed in the field and I heard some very odd accounts at first-hand. I knew someone who was a very good embryologist and who had been in on IVF from quite early on. She personally knew a lot of the people who owned and directed those clinics – she memorably observed that although she loved embryology she was concerned that so many of the people involved in running these clinics were ‘megalomaniacs’. At the time there were people like Professor Ian Craft whose practices were being openly questioned and treated with suspicion – Ian Craft was controversial because he practised selective foetal reduction ie. he would implant as many as nine or ten embryos in the uterus, knowing that if more than one or two survived he would have to abort the others. Although Ian Craft was openly treated with hostility by many people and regularly hit the headlines, there was an awful lot of bad behaviour going on behind the scenes that was less florid and never received publicity.

One clinic that was the centre of many extraordinary anecdotes was run by a Dr Bridget Mason. I was told by my embryologist contact that Mason’s family had actually made their money out of a laundry business, but because Bridget Mason was a gynaecologist, the family had then invested in a fertility clinic. The clinic run by Mason was not part of a hospital or research unit, it was simply a private clinic offering fertility treatment. It was a clinic that everybody was warned to stay away from if they were looking for a job. There seemed to be a number of staff who had worked there and left, having been paid appallingly. It was alleged that the clinic spared no expense in providing front of house facilities such as sumptuous waiting rooms with copies of Vogue strewn about to dupe the patients into believing that this was a quality establishment, but would not invest in scientific and technical staff to do the basics behind the scenes. This clinic was notorious because it was alleged that they were skimping on the staff to such an extent that there was no-one to carry the sperm samples between the lab where the sperm counts were being carried out and the rest of the clinic, which was housed in a building several stories high. I was told that the procedure was to actually throw the sperm samples out of one of the upstairs windows into the courtyard below, where the sample would then be picked up and taken inside. This clinic had become well-known across London for it’s flying sperm. I suppose it could be argued that as long as the sperm samples flew to the correct location and were duly collected, patients would not be harmed by sperm being thrown out of windows. There were further allegations about this clinic though. One was that their labs were in such chaos that staff feared that mix-ups in the samples were happening constantly and it was only a matter of time before this would be discovered by someone giving birth to a baby that they knew could not possibly be from the allotted sperm sample eg. a baby of a different race. Another allegation about the same clinic came from a middle-eastern gynaecologist that I knew who also maintained that questionable things were going on there. She had been told by a couple who had been treated there that the husband of the couple had been given – and had of course paid a handsome price for – a general anaesthetic, because ‘this increases the sperm count’. No-one had ever come across any evidence that this was indeed so, but as the middle-eastern doctor told me ‘they think that the patients are the stupidest dummies and tell them anything’. When I first heard tales of this sort of thing I presumed that there was a gulf between the practises of the clinics run by the likes of the Masons and those with sound scientific reputations. So imagine my surprise when I heard a while later that the Mason’s establishment was going into partnership with one of the most prestigious clinics in the UK – if I remember rightly it was Bourne Hall. I took the opportunity to google Bridget Mason the other day – the clinic, the Hallam Clinic looks as though it is still in operation, but there is no mention of Bridget. She probably took the money and ran long ago.

The flying sperm and administration of general anaesthetics to work their magic on spermatogenesis were not the most florid tales that I heard. I knew one person who had worked at a clinic in I think Birmingham, for a man called Dr Jack Glatt. This person had left Jack Glatt’s employment on the grounds that he really was deeply unpleasant. They had witnessed a scene in which Jack Glatt’s examination of a female patient had been so disrespectful and offensive that the patient’s husband had punched him. No charges were ever brought because Jack Glatt could not have afforded the scrutiny. Jack Glatt and Ian Craft both featured in an ITV expose by Roger Cook in 1991 in which it was alleged that a patient had died at the hands of Jack Glatt.

But what of the more prestigious institutions, the medical schools that offered fertility treatment? They were not above telling porkies to the patients either. When I worked at St George’s Hospital Medical School in the Obs and Gynae dept (please see blog posts ‘St George’s Hospital Medical School 1989/90’ and ‘Some Very Eminent Psychiatrists From London’ for full details of the insanity and malpractice that pervaded St George’s), the minor porkie that was being told to fertility patients regarded the qualifications and status of the nurse who carried out the sperm inseminations on the female patients. This woman was given the title ‘Sister’, although she was actually a retired SEN – she had never even achieved registered nurse status, let alone reached the dizzy heights of ‘Sister’. She was difficult and rude and was the centre of much discord and complaint. I wondered why the dept employed somebody this inappropriate in such a sensitive position until one day I heard it from the horse’s mouth – the registrar who was responsible for the fertility treatment let on that this ‘Sister’ was happy to perform the role free of charge because she wanted an active retirement. After I left St George’s, a major scandal happened in that dept which involved one of the consultants being struck off for research fraud – he had published a paper in which he had claimed to have successfully treated an ectopic pregnancy, by transferring the embryo from the Fallopian tube into the uterus. He hadn’t actually done this and the ensuing scandal was enormous, because he had put the name of the Professor of the Dept on the paper as well, who had to stand down from his position as President of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists and was widely rumoured to have missed out on an expected knighthood because of it. St George’s tried to ride the scandal out and kept the dept open although it was known to be highly dysfunctional. (St George’s were eventually forced to close the dept in the wake of more grief and bad publicity.) Then another scandal hit them, involving Rashmi Varma, the consultant who oversaw the fertility treatment. She received full coverage in the dear old Daily Mail, because she was up in front of the GMC having been reported to them in the wake of allegations from an angry patient that she had pressurised this NHS patient into donating eggs for private patients. Rashmi Varma was cleared by the GMC but many years later I met up with a member of staff from St George’s who was working there when it all happened who told me that everyone was actually convinced of her guilt and she had got off very lightly. Interestingly enough, my most abiding memory of Rashmi Varma was of her treating one very pleasant junior doctor who was also from India very badly – when I enquired of a colleague what was behind this I was told that it was because she was a Varma and was therefore from a much higher caste than him. Which was particularly ironic because there were some who thought that they were being treated by a woman from an ethnic minority who was breaching barriers…

There was however one doctor working at St George’s whose presence there was far more worrying than an horrific snob alleged to be pressurising NHS patients into doing favours for the paying customers. That was a man who achieved infamy within weeks of arriving at the dept by having sex with one of the researchers – in the lab. By the time that he did this it was clear that this man was a little odd and he was becoming widely disliked for numerous reasons. Because my research involved working with placental material and umbilical cords, I spent a lot of time on the labour ward and got to know the staff down there very well. I got to know something else as well – that the man who had sex with my colleague in the lab was a serious sexual harasser of midwives and cleaners. His favourite technique was accosting the cleaning staff in the sluice room when they were alone – a lot of the cleaners were young migrant workers from the far east who were very submissive and would never ever have felt able to challenge him. He truly seemed to be the Dafydd Alun Jones of St George’s. This man’s (mis)conduct was openly discussed and on one occasion I was told that he was such a liability that he was going to be frozen out of the London scene and they’d do what they always did with bad doctors – they’d ‘send him to Wales’. And they bloody well did too – he is now a consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist at the Cardiff and Vale University Health Board and at one point was clinical director there. The dreadful Brian Gibbons, one of the many who ignored the slaughter in the NHS in north Wales in his capacity as Health Minister, managed to give this man an award some years ago. This man is also a Board Member of ‘Time For Medicine’, a medical technology company and has a private practice at the Spire Cardiff Hospital. He recently boasted of his achievements fundraising for ‘Mothers Of Africa’ – I note that this was a ‘sailing challenge’. It won’t have been much of a challenge for him, after all his hobby is sailing, he is a member of the Yacht Club at Cardiff Bay. He is also in hot pursuit of a pilot’s licence, so he is obviously enjoying a rather better lifestyle than the cleaners whom he spent so much time groping. I note that although this doctor is still working in obs and gynae, he does not work in fertility treatment – which is interesting because when he first turned up at St George’s he tried to pull rank on everyone by letting us all know that he had just come from Hammersmith Hospital, where he had been working with Robert Winston. What’s the betting that he left Hammersmith under a rather big cloud? But this is how medicine works. Problematic doctor? You don’t raise a concern, you pass them on. So Robert Winston gave him to St George’s – who gave him to Wales. Where he has now stayed.

So despite all the boasting by the SNP of their ‘funding of three IVF cycles’ they might be spending their money on a questionable service delivered by some even more questionable people. But then NHS Scotland is not as Nicola Sturgeon would have us believe – as I found out three years ago when I spent a summer in the hands of NHS Scotland at Parkhead Hospital in Glasgow. It was of course yet another attempt to intimidate me, but putting me in abusive hospitals is not a good idea – I have this tendency to publish what I witness….