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RAF doctor could be struck off over errors in checks on death crash pilot
AN RAF doctor did not properly examine a pilot who later died in a plane crash alongside his teenage passenger, a tribunal has heard.
Dr Douglas Wyper said Flight Lieutenant Mike Blee, from Abingdon, was fit to fly before the mid-air collision in Drayton five years ago, which killed the pilot and air cadet Nicholas Rice, 15.
An inquest in 2012 heard the retired RAF officer’s spine could have been broken by a slight jolt due to his long-standing back problem.
And now Dr Wyper could be struck off as he faces misconduct charges at a fitness to practice hearing as a result of the inquest.
Jane Oldfield, opening the case for the General Medical Council at the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service yesterday, said the allegations related to medical examinations between 2005 and 2008, while Dr Wyper was working as an aeromedical examiner at RAF Benson, near Wallingford.
She told the panel no official record was made of Dr Wyper’s evidence at the inquest, but that media reports stated he told the coroner he “didn’t know why he had filled out the forms inaccurately and that he had been drinking heavily”.
She also said none of the charges related to the fatal accident and it was not part of the council’s case that the doctor caused or contributed to the deaths of the pilot and his passenger.
Dr Wyper, a qualified GP, from Banff, Scotland, was registered by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) as a military aeromedical examiner from 1990 until his resignation in November 2009, the tribunal heard.
He was responsible for approving Flt Lt Blee’s annual pilot’s licence between 2005 and 2009.
The panel heard that Flt Lt Blee, who was referred to as Patient A, had spine and neck problems due to the condition ankylosing spondylitis (AS), and had first consulted Dr Wyper about his fitness to fly in March 2005.
But in assessments in 2006, 2007 and 2008, the medic is said to have concluded the spine was normal and is accused of not conducting full examinations of the neck or spine.
Ms Oldfield said: “Clearly it’s extremely important that doctors charged with this responsibility are given guidance of what to look for when carrying out examinations or any further tests that might be required for certain disabilities or conditions.
“The council submit that if Dr Wyper had carried out the examination he was supposed to, it is not possible he would have assessed Patient A’s spine as normal nor failed to note kyphosis [bending of the spine] or the effects of AS.”
Flt Lt Blee had taken off in a two-seater light aircraft from RAF Benson on an air experience flight carrying Mr Rice, from Calcot, near Reading, on June 14, 2009. It was involved in a collision with a glider flown by Albert Freeborn, 29, from Portchester, Hampshire, who was able to parachute to safety.
If the panel finds any of Dr Wyper’s actions amounted to misconduct he could face sanctions on his registration, which could include conditions, suspension, or being struck off the medical register.
The Manchester hearing is expected to finish on Friday.