Chief Reporter Mike Laycock takes a closer look at some of the revelations which have emerged in the shocking Kerr/Haslam report.

THE role played by former York health chief Peter Kennedy in "getting rid" of Michael Haslam from the NHS has finally been revealed.

The report shows that Mr Kennedy, who was chief executive of York Health Services NHS Trust in the 1990s, wondered whether Michael Haslam should be counselled to retire from health service work to "avoid his career ending in a public scandal."

In a letter dated October 12, 1988, he said, after referring to five or six complaints about the doctor, that such an early retirement would also be "for the sake of patients."

Haslam did resign from the health service in December 1988 to take up a private post at Harrogate, but without his resignation taking effect until the following April.

During the inquiry, Dr Kennedy, himself a consultant psychiatrist who in 1988 was Unit General Manager for Mental Health, expressed "considerable disquiet" about Haslam being able to serve out his notice and then continue practising outside the NHS.

He conceded that there would have been further opportunities for patient abuse during the four-month period.

But he said: "By that stage, I was so pessimistic that the health service would get its act together and do anything about this, that the fact that his resignation had been brought about and he was off soon seemed better than expected.

"But... it was unsatisfactory that he was going to get away without his reputation being affected."

The report states that Dr Kennedy readily accepted there were things he had done which he regretted, and actions which he regretted not taking.

"But it is to be noted that it was Dr Kennedy who collated information and provided the material which could have led to some form of investigation, if Michael Haslam had not decided to take early retirement."

It said counsel for the NHS had told the inquiry that Dr Kennedy's "determination to root out bad practice and stand up to consultants required courage and determination, both of which he displayed in large measure throughout his time as a manager.

"It was Kennedy who collated complaints. It was he who provided them to Region. It was he who provided the memory.

"His contribution to getting rid of Haslam should be acknowledged."

Dr Kennedy, who is now an Associate for Clinical Leadership at the National Institute for Mental Health in England, was unavailable for comment.

The 955-page report followed a four-year inquiry into how the NHS handled complaints against two North Yorkshire psychiatrists, Haslam and William Kerr.

The inquiry was ordered by the Government after Kerr had been found in 2000 to have indecently assaulted a former patient.

Haslam was subsequently convicted of four indecent assaults on three former patients.

:: Admission of cross-dressing after patient complained about sexual impropriety

MICHAEL Haslam admitted being involved in transvestite activities, the report reveals.

But a health manager accepted without question his explanation that it had been an "entirely social cross-dressing event attended by him at a club," that had taken place outside of work and had no connection with patients.

Haslam was a renowned expert on transvestism and transexualism, and was a trustee of the Beaumont Trust, a charitable educational resource for medical, voluntary and lay people who seek to increase their knowlededge of transsexualism and transvestism. But it was not known before that he himself took part in cross-dressing.

The report says the admission was made by Haslam to a York Health District Administrator, William Holroyd, in 1976, after solicitors had made a complaint to him on behalf of a patient.

The solicitors alleged that while the woman was under Haslam's care, having been referred to him because of psycho-sexual problems, he had instigated a sexual relationship lasting for almost two years until May 1976.

They claimed sex had taken place on hospital premises, particularly at the end of his Friday clinic, and at other locations.

Mr Holroyd told the inquiry that he had viewed Haslam's psycho-sexual clinic as the "jewel in the crown" at York's former Clifton Hospital, and he could not have been more surprised by the allegations.

He said he immediately telephoned Haslam after receiving the complaint to give him the "right to reply."

He said the solicitors had telephoned him on June 7, 1976, to tell him there was some supporting evidence, including photographs, and to say that the purpose of the complaint was to halt Haslam's activities for the benefit of others.

"Mr Holroyd's recollection was that Michael Haslam accepted he had been involved in transvestite activities when the issue of photographs was raised, and accordingly Mr Holroyd inferred this was the subject matter of the photographs referred to," said the report.

"How the photographic evidence got into the possession of a patient who was complaining of sexual impropriety does not appear to have troubled Mr Holroyd at all."

The report says that Haslam told the inquiry that the patient had withdrawn her complaint "for reasons best known to herself."

He claimed the patient had lied when she alleged there had been sexual contact on an occasion when he called round to her home to give her a prescription.

The report concludes that there was "no investigation worthy of the name" into the patient's complaints. "Serious allegations were made, Haslam denied them and that appears to be the end of it."

:: Haslam 'knew of 20 liaisons by colleagues'

MICHAEL Haslam claimed in 1992 that he knew of some 20 "liaisons" between colleagues and patients - and appeared to give such affairs his approval.

Writing in a letter to the British Medical Journal, as chairman of the Society of Clinical Psychiatrists, he said surveys had shown that something like ten per cent of doctors had had sexual contact with a patient.

"The vast majority of these, however, cannot have found the experience harmful, since it is a considerably smaller number where a complaint is ever made," he said.

Haslam said he would not dream of reporting any colleague's affairs to any official body, knowing the type of "biased crucifixion which that will subsequently entail for them."

He said that reporting them would also often have been a breach of confidentiality and medical ethics.

"No doubt the vast majority of us would accept that to have sexual contact with a patient is a pretty risky and foolish business in view of the attitude of the General Medical Council, and the enjoyment which the press always has in giving publicity to such activity when it discovers them.

Updated: 10:23 Wednesday, July 20, 2005