Mothers Coerced [into Circumcision] by Family Doctor

News  The Daily Telegraph (London). Tuesday, 14 August 2001.

Nicola Woolcock

TWO babies suffered botched circumcisions after their mothers were coerced by their family doctor into consenting to the operations, the  External link General Medical Council was told yesterday.

Neither baby was anaesthetised properly and one suffered bleeding after he was sent home.

Dr Michael Harbinson paid the surgeon, Mr Peter Silverstone, who was practised in religious, not medical, circumcisions, out of his fund-holding budget.

Dr Harbinson, of Rowlands Gill, Tyne and Wear, and Mr Silverstone, of Newcastle upon Tyne, both deny serious professional misconduct. Mr Silverstone also denies allegations that he failed in his treatment of two women on whom he performed hysterectomies.

The GMC's  External link professional conduct committee was told that Dr Harbinson gave the mothers no choice about who would perform the operations which left both babies screaming uncontrollably.

Miss Zoe Johnson, for the GMC, told the hearing: Dr Harbinson presented the case as a fait accompli. He did not explain the alternative to circumcision.

One of the babies had the operation when he was six months because he had cysts. As she waited during the operation she heard her son screaming as if in agony, said Miss Johnson.

The mother of the other baby said every time she took her baby to the surgery Dr Harbinson would try to persuade her to have him circumcised. When the child caught a urinary infection at the age of six months she agreed.

Afterwards the mother found him screaming uncontrollably and wearing a bandage soaked with blood. The hearing continues.


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