The Scottish Mail on Sunday

Paid £850k to stay home for 5 years, the A&E doc cleared of sex offences

Frustratio­n for father of two desperate to help hospital f ight ongoing Covid crisis but still suspended by health board

- By Georgia Edkins

THE NHS in Scotland has been accused of wasting ‘money, brains and time’ after suspending a doctor for five years on full pay – at a cost to the public purse of almost £1 million.

A&E consultant Dr Richard MacCallum was accused of sharing sexual trysts with two patients in 2016 but a medical tribunal exonerated him last year, finding the claims to be baseless.

The General Medical Council has confirmed the married father of two ‘may work at any grade in the NHS’.

Yet Dr MacCallum’s employer, NHS Forth Valley, is refusing to allow him back to work, despite mounting pressure on the NHS amid the Delta wave of the Covid crisis.

Last night, his colleagues told how the doctor’s attempts to return to the frontline at Forth Valley Royal Hospital in Larbert, Stirlingsh­ire, had been blocked and hit out at NHS bosses for wasting resources by continuing to keep him on suspension.

Overall, they calculate health chiefs have ‘wasted’ £850,000 in salary costs and employer pension contributi­ons.

The true total is set to be almost £100,000 higher as the board is forced to pay locum doctors to cover Dr MacCallum’s shifts.

Speaking on condition of anonymity for fear that they too would face sanctions, Dr MacCallum’s colleague said: ‘It has frankly been a disgrace that Dr MacCallum’s colleagues have been fighting Covid without his help. They have been destroyed and he cannot help them.

‘There is a systemic culture of bullying at NHS Forth Valley. When he was last working there in 2016 there were ten A&E consultant­s and only three are still there. Six senior consultant­s resigned.

‘One just gave up for no job, two have taken early retirement because they were basically bullied out and three upped and left to go to NHS Fife.’

The colleague added: ‘There’s now seven-and-a-half consultant­s and they are all young and all keen, but they’re also all burnt out because they’re working hard to cover the gaps. My worry is that A&E will carry on but the standard of care can only be as good as the people who are there and they are burnt out.’

They added: ‘The raison d’être of going into medicine is to do good. He loved his job, he enjoyed every moment of it and just wants to get back to help.’

Dr MacCallum had been a senior specialist consultant in emergency care for almost two decades before he was subject to a raft of allegation­s relating to sexual misconduct in 2016, said to have taken place since 2008. One patient – a 63-yearold referred to as Patient B – claimed Dr MacCallum had molested her on a hospital ward.

Another woman, Patient A, who died in 2015 aged 50, claimed they had met up for sex. It was also claimed she had received gifts of Lindt chocolates and cola drinks from Dr MacCallum.

Investigat­ions were launched in November of that year and he was suspended on full pay, which works out at around £112,000 a year.

It took more than three years for the Medical Practition­er’s Tribunal Service (MPTS), equivalent to a medical High Court, to investigat­e the claims and set a hearing. In March 2020, the panel cleared the doctor and said that his licence to practise had not been impaired.

He remains registered with the GMC as fit to work.

Yet NHS Forth Valley has said Dr MacCallum will remain suspended until the conclusion of its own internal investigat­ions. These are meant to take around 32 weeks, however the probe into Dr MacCallum has now continued for almost 230 weeks, with no end in sight.

Earlier this month, Forth Valley received extra funding as it struggled to cope with a surge in Covid cases. It is also the worst performing health board for treatment delays at A&E, Dr MacCallum’s specialist department.

Last night, his colleague said: ‘Dr MacCallum has been fully investigat­ed, gone through a lengthy tribunal and has been cleared by the MPTS.

‘That decision has been reconsider­ed and checked by the GMC legal committee and the profession­al standards authority.

‘It is a very robust and profession­al system.’

‘He is desperate to get back to work. He even applied for a job in Elgin so he could help the Covid effort. Although he did well at the interview, he thinks he was obstructed by NHS Forth Valley.

‘As for the impact this has had on him, he has had a significan­t heart problem directly as a result of this.

‘Culture of bullying at NHS Forth Valley’ ‘Deeply affected his mental health’

It has also deeply, deeply affected his mental health.

‘He has been so low, it has destroyed his career and it has destroyed him.’

A spokeswoma­n for NHS Forth Valley last night confirmed Dr MacCallum was suspended pending the outcome of an internal investigat­ion.

She said: ‘Conduct cases and internal investigat­ions involving medical staff are undertaken in line with a nationally agreed policy.

‘This requires employers to consider any advice which might support staff under investigat­ion as well as informatio­n and advice received from external agencies which can impact on the timescales involved.

‘Additional medical staff have recently been recruited for our Emergency Department and they are due to take up post in the next few weeks.

‘An improvemen­t plan is also in developmen­t to address all of the recommenda­tions and issues identified in the recent external review which was commission­ed by NHS Forth Valley’s chief executive.’

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 ??  ?? Waiting game: Dr Richard MacCallum is being blocked from returning to his job at Forth Valley Royal Hospital, inset
Waiting game: Dr Richard MacCallum is being blocked from returning to his job at Forth Valley Royal Hospital, inset

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