Doctor in Kerry X-ray scandal cleared to work in UK – after she had been suspended
THE doctor at the centre of the Kerry hospital delayed diagnoses scandal, which has led to four deaths, produced documentation giving her the all-clear to work in the UK – after she had been suspended in 2017.
The woman, who lives in Ireland but works remotely for a UK locum service, registered with Britain’s General Medical Council in December 2017, as previously revealed by the Irish Mail on Sunday.
The MoS has now learned that the GMC and her British employers were unaware of problems with her work in Ireland – despite strict protocols requiring her to have the all-clear from the Irish Medical Council and her Irish employer.
The radiologist, who graduated from UCD in the 1990s and has worked in Britain and Ireland throughout her career, is registered with the Everlight radiology agency in the
‘They issued certificates of good standing’
greater London area. The agency provides services to hospitals across Britain.
The HSE has confirmed it is investigating the death of a fifth person who was not included in the original review of scans at University Hospital Kerry, the results of which were published this week.
This is because the mistake in the fifth case is not connected to the reading of scans by the radiologist.
It brings to 12 the total of people who had a delayed diagnosis at the hospital, the HSE has confirmed.
As well as the four confirmed fatalities, four more of these patients are believed to be terminally ill after the radiologist missed their cancers between May 2016 and July 2017.
She re-registered with the British medical council last December, having been suspended by the Kerry hospital on July 27, 2017.
This week’s report by a senior incident management team confirmed that concerns were raised in the hospital well ahead of her suspension.
The report states: ‘Concerns had been raised regarding the level of activity the individual was undertaking and a small number of doctors in treating patients had expressed clinical reservations in relation to the quality of some of the reports.
‘These issues were being actively addressed by hospital management at the time the decision was made to carry out the review.’
Nonetheless the GMC said this week that both University Hospital Kerry and the Irish Medical Council issued ‘certificates of good standing’ for the doctor in December 2017.
‘To register with us, both her last employer, in the case the hospital, and the medical authority in the country concerned, would have had to supply a certificate of current professional status, also known as certificate of good standing,’ said a spokesperson.
‘We received these and she would not have been registered without either of these.’
The Irish Medical Council this weekend said it would not comment on individual cases.
However a spokesperson said: ‘To be eligible for a certificate of current professional status, a doctor must currently be in good standing with no ongoing proceedings, conditions or findings against them.’
He added that complaints against doctors are initially handled by the Preliminary Proceedings Committee.
It is the role of the PPC to investigate a complaint, decide whether it warrants further action and provide recommendations to the Medical Council of Ireland.
Commenting on the scandal this week, Tánaiste Simon Coveney said the Irish Medical Council was informed over concerns about the radiologist but that assessment is ongoing.
A spokesperson for the South/ South West Hospital Group denied it had issued a certificate of good standing for the doctor. ‘I would be very shocked if that had happened,’ he said.
He added later in a statement: ‘The individual was placed on administrative leave from July 27, 2017, pending the outcome of the investigations and chose to formally resign their position on October 18, 2017.
In accordance with procedure, formal notification was issued to the Medical Council of Ireland on October 27, 2017. Management at UHK continue to provide appropriate responses to requests for information from the Medical Council.
‘UHK do not issue certificates of good standing – any queries in relation to this should be referred to the Medical Council.’
The doctor, who was previously a consultant radiologist at the Mater Hospital, had worked in England over several periods since she qualified.
Sinn Féin Cllr Toiréasa Ferris has been critical of the response of local and national health authorities.
‘The 77-page report this week deals with how the situation arose at the hospital and was eventually responded to.
‘However, astoundingly there are less than two pages that deal with recommendations to prevent a similar situation happening again.’
Several people have now started legal proceedings against the hospital including families of the deceased.
Among the dead identified in the review of 46,000 scans taken at the hospital are a patient with advanced bone cancer whose diagnosis was delayed by 37 weeks.
There was also a deceased patient with a rectal tumour whose diagnosis was delayed by seven weeks, and a patient with pancreatic cancer whose diagnosis was delayed by six weeks.
UHK confirmed again this week that the doctor had been the subject of complaints by senior staff.
All of the complaints related to the volume of work with which the consultant was dealing.
The radiologist signed off on some 46,000 reports over 15 months while working as a locum at the Tralee hospital – equal to nearly 3,000
‘Only two pages on how to stop it happening again’
examinations per month or 100 per day. The standard workload for a radiologist working in Ireland is between 12,500 and 15,000 examinations per year, which works out at a maximum of 40 per day.
‘There was a feeling it was impossible
‘Impossible for her to read so many scans’
for her to be reading all those scans – nobody could do that,’ said a source.
Meanwhile, the London agency where the radiologist now works would not comment on her employment.
However, the MoS understands it was unaware of the difficulties she had encountered in the Kerry hospital. Its website stresses its ‘commitment to excellence’ and states that its clinical recruitment [of radiologists] is the first step towards ‘a consistently high standard of reporting’.
It continues: ‘All of our radiologists are experienced GMC specialists registered with NHS consultant experience, covering all cross-sectional imaging and body parts.
‘They are all thoroughly vetted by our medical director, and are required to provide detailed documentation.
‘This includes: references; full ID; GMC appraisal and revalidation information; evidence of CPD [continuing professional development]; criminal records check; an up-to-date CV.’
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