Doctor who downloaded child pornography is allowed to carry on working

Consultant cardiologist Dr Steven Burn, 53, was arrested after IT staff found 65 indecent images of children on his work computer whilst investigating whether it had been infected by a computer virus.

Some of the children featured were said to be as young as seven.

Burn was sacked from his post in Royal Derby Hospital for gross misconduct last June and he was convicted by a court of possessing indecent images – but he still faced being banned from working as a medic.

At the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service, a disciplinary panel said the doctor’s fitness to practice was impaired but suspended him for 12 months after he asked to be allowed to resume his 28-year career saying he would “rather die than re-offend”.

During an impassioned plea for mercy Burn, who lives with his long-term girlfriend in Church Broughton, said he had been struggling to obtain funding for the cardiology unit at the hospital and his efforts were being hampered by NHS bureaucracy.

He claimed this left him “withdrawn, isolated and inadequate” and he said he turned to trawling porn websites “to block things out”.

The decision means he will be able to treat patients while on the Sex Offender Register.

Lawyers for the General Medical Council had called for him to be struck off.

The scandal broke in 2014 when IT staff at the hospital carried out tests on the computer amid fears it was being spammed with porn due to a virus. But they discovered images on the PC had been downloaded by Burn using login details and a password.

When his computer was confiscated and analysed, specialists found it had 31 indecent images of children and 34 prohibited images of children.

In December, Burn was given a three-year community order by Southern Derbyshire Magistrates’ Court and given a five-year Sexual Offences Prevention Order and told to attend a Sex Offenders’ Programme as well as signing the Sex Offenders’ Register for five years.

But Burn told the Manchester hearing: “The job I did was something I spent my entire life aiming for since the age of 13 and I was a consultant in a speciality I loved.

“But increasingly I did become very frustrated about the development of services I thought were important for patients.

“The bureaucracy is legendary. Instead of dealing with it in the correct manner I became more withdrawn and this added to my own feelings of inadequacy as I couldn’t get things done that I felt were important.

“Unfortunately I did also start accessing pornography and that was a reversion to how I acted when I was single. It was a form of distraction and nothing more than that.”

Panel chairman Martyn Green told Burn: “Whilst the events occurred in the workplace, the panel did not consider you had put patients at risk of harm.”

A spokeswoman for Derby Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust said: “We’d like to reassure patients that this matter was not related to his clinical practice or the care his patients received in Derby.”