A PRIVATE GP was found guilty of serious professional misconduct after telling a schizophrenic woman she did not need treatment months before her tragic death.

Dr James Pitt-Payne refused to believe Hilary Hargreaves, 45, was ill and said she did not need to take her medication.

Mrs Hargreaves' condition worsened and she died three months later from a fall from her window.

The General Medical Council (GMC) found Dr Pitt-Payne, of Top Park, Beckenham, guilty of serious professional misconduct, saying his clinical management was "inadequate."

Mrs Hargreaves was admitted to hospital in June 2000, after becoming increasingly paranoid, where Dr Neil Campbell diagnosed schizophrenia psychosis.

She was discharged after Dr Pitt-Payne wrote a letter disputing the diagnosis.

He said she was "introverted" but he had not seen her for eight years and knew nothing of her mental breakdown in 1997.

Zoe Johnson, for the GMC, said his opinion was "unsubstantiated".

Mrs Hargreaves' husband, Benedict, called Dr Pitt-Payne's surgery for an emergency appointment after becoming concerned in September 2000. It was never arranged and Mrs Hargreaves, of Surbiton died the next day. The coroner recorded a verdict of accidental death.

Dr Pitt-Payne told the hearing: "She was refusing medication everybody has the right to say no."

May 6, 2003 11:30