James Taylor, the consultant paediatric cardiologist at Great Ormond Street children's hospital who was found guilty of serious misconduct by the General Medical Council, had carried out a balloon catheterisation on a six-year-old girl without her parents' consent. Dr Taylor said he thought it was in the patient's best interests.

Two other consultants said they would have done the same. Yet it was not an emergency. Legally, a child cannot be treated without parental consent or, failing that, a court order. A doctor can act without consent in the patient's best interests only in cases of 'necessity': an emergency where no consent can be obtained, or where an adult patient is mentally incompetent to give a valid consent.