A grateful patient today dubbed an oncologist “God” and “Dr Hope”, after hearing from him and his personal support by Professor Lockdown Neil Ferguson.

Justin Stebbing (55) was not charged by the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service MPTS, but was suspended instead for nine months. The tribunal acknowledged that he had received ‘unprecedented testament evidence’. 

The world-famous oncologist, Dr. Michael A. Cohen admitted in October that he had failed 12 patients during 2014-2017. These included over-treating certain people to the point of death and failing to fully explain their risks.  

He was supported by Neil Ferguson (among others) who wrote, “I ask you to inflict some more lenient penalties for such transgressions that he may have made.”

“His mistakes have, as far as I am aware, been minor in relation to his immense contributions as a physician and scientist.

Professor Justin Stebbing. In October, the world-renowned oncologist admitted failings over 12 patients between 2014 and 2017, including over-treating some close to death or failing fully to explain risks

Professor Justin Stebbing. Oct. saw the admission by Professor Justin Stebbing that the internationally renowned oncologist had made mistakes in treating 12 patients from 2014 to 2017. These included over-treating certain close to death and failing to adequately explain risk factors

An unnamed celeb said, “He is a world-class surgeon.” Unsurprisingly, my entire case history shows that I believe Professor Stebbing has saved my quality life and even my own life. Standard treatment could have resulted in my children losing their mom while still high school students.

“It is a gift from Mother Nature that I have accepted the fear of getting cancer, and the more recent fear of becoming a victim to Covid.

“But, the organization protecting safety has unnecessarily added a man-made terror that this oncologist might lose his care.

“I’m dismayed that the license suspension could be considered, especially when there are less severe sanctions that can be applied.” 

Hear from the tribunal about how his “international reputation” for innovation in cancer treatment led wealthy patients around the world to turn to him to prolong their lives.

They include Lynda Belingham’s actor, Sir Michael Parkinson, and Sir Douglas Myers from New Zealand.   

Professor Stebbing was charged with failing to deliver good care for 12 patients in March 2014-March 2017.

He attempted to defend many clinical decisions he made, but he ultimately admitted all 36 of them and was found guilty on three other charges.

Patients were treated inappropriately for advanced cancers or with poor prognosis. They also received overestimated life expectancy, chemotherapy benefits and continued treatment when they weren’t able to.

Also, he admitted not getting informed consent to treatment from patients and failing to keep accurate records. He was also dishonest after trying to cover up his tracks with altered paperwork.

In November, the tribunal found that Professor Stebbing was not fit to practice due to misconduct with 12 of his patients.

The General Medical Council said that Prof Stebbing wrongly prescribed drugs outside of gold-standard medical protocols, often to frail patients. He is pictured above with the late Sir Roger Moore

According to the General Medical Council, Prof Stebbing had incorrectly prescribed drugs that were not in accordance with gold-standard medical protocols. This was often for frail patients. Pictured above is Sir Roger Moore 

The committee reviewed the details, often painful, of every patient’s battle with cancer, using evidence from many witnesses including patients’ family members and experts, as well as Prof Stebbing.

He mentioned the “Lazarus-like” responses to his treatment and how he was able to take on difficult and challenging cases in order to “try to change death’s certainty.”

However, the case highlighted a common thread: patients were treated despite the fact that their condition or prognosis was poor. The majority of 12 victims died within one month.

GMC called experts to discuss the necessity of using evidence-based medicine. To recognize the limits of treatment, have honest and open discussions with patients and families in order to support them making tough decisions about end-of life care.

However, he claimed that he was reflecting on past failures and had gone through a ‘humbling and chastening’ learning process.

He claimed he had been mistaken in treating patients, even though he wanted to give them hope or a chance, and that he was now a conservative, cautious doctor.

He stated that 12 of the patients were very difficult. His clinical judgement had led him to choose not to treat and have ‘fallen off’ the right side.

Sharon Beattie was a QC for GMC and sought an order of erasure. Sharon argued Prof Stebbing had “repeatedly” insisted clinical matters were ‘fine line’ decisions which led to concerns over his lack of insight.

Further concerns were raised about the ‘ongoing danger’ to patient safety. She also stated that he was on an “persistent path of conduct” as well as a “persistent dishonesty” which he attempted to conceal.

Professor Stebbing sought to avoid more severe sanctions by emphasizing his research, which was some of it ongoing and close to completion. He also highlighted the negative effects this would have on his career.

He said that it was difficult for projects to continue without him.

Mary O’Rourke (Professor Stebbing’s Crown Counsel) stated she was not satisfied with the tribunal’s determination on impairment. She noted that his occurred during ‘one the worst times of his life’, when he was having mental health problems.

She stated that Professor Stebbing did not take on 12 patients “for money” but rather for the “best of motives” and the greater good, even though his actions were misguided.

Professor Stebbing was backed by - among others - his Imperial College colleague Neil Ferguson, who wrote: 'I urge you to impose some more lenient penalty for such transgressions as he may have committed

Professor Stebbing was backed by – among others – his Imperial College colleague Neil Ferguson, who wrote: ‘I urge you to impose some more lenient penalty for such transgressions as he may have committed

Ms O’Rourke listened to dozens upon dozens testimonials supporting Prof Stebbing, including from families of patients, top oncologists, and colleagues, which spoke of their support for him.

Others claimed it would have been an unimaginable tragedy and an incalculable loss for him to stop working.

Margaret Obi (chair of MPTS Panel) noted in the decision of the tribunal that there had been a lot of reasons for erasure, but also certain factors that suggested that an even lower suspension of sanction would protect the public’s interest and be more effective.

She also noted Prof Stebbing’s “poor mental and personal stressors” at the time of his dishonesty.

This behavior, she said was unusual and that it had occurred over four years ago. It has not been repeated.

Ms Obi also recognized Prof Stebbing’s important remediation efforts and stated that there was no evidence of an underlying attitudinal failure.

According to her, the point of suspension began at 12 months due to the severity of the misconduct.

She said, “But, the tribunal also balanced it against the particular circumstances of this case.”

“The tribunal considered Prof Stebbing’s innovative, ground-breaking work in the public’s interest and heard testimonials from many people, including well-respected clinicians and scientists from all over the globe.

She explained that, while PS Stebbing had claimed his ICL contract would end if he was suspended from it, the possibility existed that “because of his unique talent” – as noted in his testimony witnesses – both the academic and clinical community in oncology could ‘encourage his work to continue or be delayed indefinitely.

Ms Obi stated that, based on the facts of the case, the tribunal deemed it in the public’s best interest to allow Prof Stebbing back to practice as quickly as possible. However the longest period of suspension the tribunal could impose to indicate the seriousness and severity of his misconduct would be 9 months.