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Widow shocked over husband's 'avoidable' death

From BBC - August 9, 2017

Barbara Vavalidis had been planning a carefree retirement after decades of hard work and a busy family life.

Instead she is mourning the loss of her partner of 45 years, the father of her two sons.

Stefanos Vavalidis died in London in January 2016, aged 69.

He had fallen ill while on holiday abroad in May 2015, and spent the last eight months of his life in hospital.

Mrs Vavalidis is suing the private GP who was the family's trusted doctor for more than 30 years, alleging negligence.

Her lawyer from Leigh Day solicitors said it was one of the worst cases he had known in more than 30 years.

Dr Peter Wheeler was the doctor of Diana, Princess of Wales, and was the man who identified her body after she died in a car crash 20 years ago.

In his defence to Mrs Vavalidis's civil claim, due to be heard at the High Court next year, Dr Wheeler has admitted he was in breach of his duty by failing to properly monitor his patient by arranging the full blood tests, recommended in the standard medicines reference book for all doctors.

BBC News has established that Dr Wheeler is under investigation by the General Medical Council (GMC), which regulates the UK's doctors.

And the Metropolitan Police has confirmed it is looking into a complaint received about the case.

Dr Wheeler continues to practise medicine at Sloane Street Surgery in west London without any conditions.

An inquest last November found Mr Vavalidis died from liver failure and this was "most probably associated with toxicity" from methotrexate, a drug prescribed for his psoriasis.

'Poisoned drip by drip'

Mrs Vavalidis, 66, told me: "My husband took methotrexate once a week without fail. But he suffered an almost insidious build-up of health problems like colds and poor sleep.

"That was the nature of being poisoned - drip by drip by drip - over this very long period.

"It's heartbreaking enough to lose your partner of 45 years - but a complete shock and horror when we found it had been totally avoidable.

"We would caution people to think carefully about their choices of medical care and who is giving it to them."

'Horrifying decline'

The family had to have Mr Vavalidis flown back by air ambulance from Greece to University College London Hospital in July 2015. They have praised his NHS care.

Mrs Vavalidis added: "He was a very intelligent person and had been a great reader.

"But by that time it was clear his brain function had slowed considerably."

She and her elder son Alex accused Dr Wheeler of "arrogance, prolonged carelessness and negligence".

Breach of duty

Are regulators doing their job?

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