The Taylor&Emmet Blog

Princess Diana’s former doctor admits negligence

Peter Wheeler, previously a personal physician to Princess Diana, hit the headlines recently over allegations of negligence that led to the death of the former director of the National Bank of Greece.

Barbara Vavalidis is the widow of Stefanos Vavalidis who died in January 2016, aged 69. She is bringing a claim for clinical negligence against Dr Wheeler for a failure to correctly monitor and manage medication. Her husband was given a strong drug, Methotrexate, to treat the skin condition psoriasis for over a decade. It is alleged the monitoring of this drug and its effects was repeatedly below a reasonable standard. Adequate blood tests and investigations were alleged to have not been carried out between 2006 and 2013.

Mr Vavalidis fell ill whilst on holiday in May 2015 and was transferred by air ambulance to University College London hospital in July 2015. He remained in hospital until his death. His widow described her husband as being “poisoned – drip by drip by drip.”

Dr Wheeler, who formally identified Princess Diana’s body when she was killed in Paris, has reportedly admitted fault and that, without his failings, Mr Vavalidis would have lived for another 18 months.

Russell Levy, the family’s solicitor with Leigh Day has specialised in healthcare since 1985 and described this as “the worst case of repeated, persistent negligent care that I’ve come across.” It is disappointing, therefore, that an investigation by the General Medical Council (GMC) is still ongoing. Dr Wheeler continues to practice without restriction at the Sloane Street Surgery in London.

Unfortunately it is not uncommon for GMC investigations to take a lot of time to reach conclusion. Lengthy investigations and legal proceedings are commonplace in such cases which only serve to worsen the heartache for the families involved. If not settled, the trial is due to take place in the High Court next year.

The following articles offer further details on the case:-

Diana’s doctor poisoned my husband says widow – The Guardian

Princess Dian’s doctor admits failings led death patient – The Telegraph

Widow shocked over husband’s ‘avoidable’ death – The BBC


Paul Fouad

Paul Fouad is a partner in the clinical negligence department. Paul is a member of the Law Society’s specialist clinical negligence Accreditation Panel. For more information on this topic email or call her on 0114 218 4105.

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