EXCLUSIVE: Killer doctor wants job back

Former surgeon Steven Walker and (below) tragic pensioner Dorothy McPhee.
Former surgeon Steven Walker and (below) tragic pensioner Dorothy McPhee.
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A disgraced former Blackpool surgeon who admitted killing one of his patients is bidding to become a registered doctor again.

Steven Walker was found guilty of serious professional misconduct and struck off the Medical Register for a second time in 2005 after a series of operations left four women dead and six others maimed.

Tragic pensioner Dorothy McPhee.

Tragic pensioner Dorothy McPhee.

The former surgeon, dubbed ‘Dr Death’ by reports at the time, was convicted of the manslaughter of Stalmine pensioner Dorothy McPhee.

Now The Gazette has learned Walker, who worked at Blackpool Victoria Hospital from 1995 to 1999, has applied to be restored to the Medical Register.

Walker has applied to the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service, part of the GMC.

The revelation was today met with disgust by families affected by his actions.

Donald McPhee’s wife Dorothy died in 1995 after she underwent a procedure at Blackpool Vic to have a tumour removed from her liver.

The 71-year-old suffered catastrophic blood loss during what was described as an over-ambitious operation carried out by Walker

Staff had begged the inexperienced surgeon to stop the operation as he struggled to 
remove the tumour.

Despite the terrible loss of blood during the fatal procedure, Walker is said to have turned away from Mrs McPhee to assist a medical photographer in taking shots of the liver tumour that had been removed as well as ones of himself in blood-soaked gowns.

After initially pleading not guilty to manslaughter, Walker changed his plea.

To the anger of families affected by his incompetence, the surgeon walked free from the Old Bailey after he was sentenced to 21 months prison, suspended for two years.

On hearing of Walker’s bid to return to the Medical Register, Mr McPhee, 87, said: “I say no, keep him away. To do a thing like that and plead not guilty at first is all wrong.

“I wouldn’t want him back, not after what he’s done. No hospital should have him back.”

Mr McPhee said he believed no amount of re-training would make Walker fit to practice again after the grief he had caused families.

Mr McPhee, a retired engineer who is known to friends as Gordon, added: “He should not have been operating in the first place. I remember taking my wife into the hospital and then it all happened so quickly. Within a week I was burying her.

“The hospital called me and said something wasn’t right.

“I went in to see her and she was lying down on the bed. I went over and kissed her on the forehead and she was cold.

“(Walker) came in and apologised because she had died and, not knowing what had happened, I said ‘you’ve done your best’ but I didn’t know.”

Walker was also charged with killing Jean Robinson, 66 – who died following an operation in which Walker perforated her bowel – and Margaret Wilson, 63, who lost 20 litres of blood after an operation to remove a bowel tumour in 1998.

Those charges, together with a charge of theft of hospital documents, were ordered to lie on file.

The son of Mabel Saville, 86, who died after losing four litres of blood during a bowel operation carried out by the surgeon in 1999 said he was “very surprised” to hear the doctor was making the application.

Neil Saville, of West Drive, Cleveleys, said: “I am very worried by this news.

“I can’t see how he can have improved as a surgeon in the last 14 years, when he has not been practising. If anything, most people would have deteriorated with age 14 years later.

“I accept doctors and surgeons can make mistakes, but this wasn’t just one mistake.

“I hope the GMC doesn’t allow him to practise again. I would imagine the public would still wonder whether he is capable of performing properly.”

In December 1998 anaesthetist Dr Nicholas Harper drew attention to catastrophic blood loss in 16 patients and said he could no longer work with Walker. Blackpool Vic staff were praised at the Old Bailey for blowing the whistle on Walker’s actions.

But the hospital trust itself was blasted for a “lamentable systemic failure” due to the fact the police were not asked to investigate until six years after Mrs McPhee’s death.

Other cases which came to light included that of a woman, from Carleton, who had a mastectomy and breast reconstruction performed by Walker in 1995. She endured two years of pain until the implant was removed.

A register containing details of operations from 1994 to 1996 was later found in Walker’s loft having been taken from the hospital.

A GMC hearing in 2005 was told the Professional Conduct Committee (PCC) which looked into Walker’s case described him as having “insufficient appreciation” of his own limitations as a surgeon.

The PCC said he had “recklessly” gone ahead knowing the risks, knowing his experience was limited and having taken no precautions.

Walker, formerly of The Belfry, Lytham, was struck off in 2001 only to be re-instated on condition he never attempted surgery.

But after he pleaded guilty to the manslaughter of Mrs McPhee, he was thrown out of the profession and was told his conduct was “fundamentally incompatible with being a registered practitioner”.

Doctors can apply to be restored to the medical register five years or more after the date they were erased.

Walker’s application will be heard by a Fitness to Practice panel at the GMC in Manchester on November 14 and 15.

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