Doctor failed to diagnose pilot's spinal condition

Doctor failed to diagnose pilot's spinal condition

Mike Blee

Nicholas Rice, who died in a 2009 collision

First published in News

A DOCTOR, who did not disclose the medical condition of a pilot who died in an air crash with a teenager, faces a medical tribunal next month.

Dr Douglas Wyper is accused of reporting that a patients’ spine was normal when he in fact had a condition that affected neck movement.

A coroner was told at a 2012 inquest that Dr Wyper wrongly reported that pilot Abingdon’s Mike Blee, 62, had no muscular-skeletal or spinal conditions.

But he had ankylosing spondylitis, a condition where his neck vertebrae are rigidly fused, limiting mobility of the spine and neck by 50 per cent.

A 2012 inquest recorded a verdict of accidental death and a coroner was told a slight jolt could have broken his spine.

Mr Blee died with passenger Nicholas Rice, 15, of Calcot, Reading when his plane collided with a glider – the pilot of which parachuted to safety – over Drayton, near Abingdon on June 14, 2009.

The RAF apologised in 2010, saying Mr Blee’s condition contributed to the crash but was not questioned at the time.

A Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service hearing will be held from March 17. Sanctions include striking Dr Wyper off.

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It will consider the allegation that Dr Wyper, an approved, aeromedical examiner, identified the condition. But it is alleged he did not refer to this in further annual assessments from 2006 to 2009 and did not submit these to the Civil Aviation Authority in 2009 or keep the assessment record.

Neither the tribunal service or the General Medical Council would confirm the allegations relate to the crash.

The RAF said its failure to question Mr Blee’s medical fitness and lack of ejection training contributed to the deaths.

The inquest ruled neither pilot saw each other in time and awareness of his condition and ejection training contributed to the deaths.

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