Doctor in Kerry X-ray scan­dal cleared to work in UK – af­ter she had been sus­pended

The Irish Mail on Sunday - - NEWS - By Nicola Byrne

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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