This report sets out the findings of an independent statutory inquiry, established in July 2001, to investigate the NHS's handling of allegations of misconduct by Clifford Ayling, a former Kent GP and hospital obstetrics and gynaecological clinical assistant. He was convicted in December 2000 of 10 counts of indecent assault, placed indefinitely on the Sex Offender's Register and subsequently struck off the Medical Register. The inquiry's remit was: to examine the procedures in place within the local health services for dealing with complaints relating to professional misconduct to identify factors which impeded or prevented appropriate investigation and action in the case to make recommendations for reform of patient safety and complaints handling, in the light of subsequent NHS developments The report is divided into six main chapters which cover: the events involved in the case between 1971 up to 2000; the handling of concerns and complaints and the NHS organisational culture. The report concludes that although there have been significant organisational changes in the NHS since Ayling was a practising doctor, it is too early to judge whether improved systems have been fully developed to ensure that, should an individual patient encounter a similar problem, their concerns would be acted upon. Given this, the report makes a number of recommendations directed towards strengthening current procedures for early identification and assertive action when patient concerns are raised. The document also contains a series of annexes and appendices.
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