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GMC clears surgeon of 22 charges

BMJ 2001; 323 doi: (Published 15 December 2001) Cite this as: BMJ 2001;323:1388
  1. Owen Dyer
  1. London

    A UK consultant surgeon who had been accused of botching operations after which six patients died was cleared of serious professional misconduct last week after a long running inquiry by the General Medical Council.

    Christopher Ingoldby, 54, is now free to return to work but remains out of a job after being sacked last summer by his employer, Pinderfields and Pontefract Hospitals NHS Trust, after a long period of suspension.

    Of 24 charges laid against Mr Ingoldby, only two were found proved by the GMC's professional conduct committee. Revoking an interim order that barred Mr Ingoldby from performing surgery outside accident and emergency departments, committee chairman John Shaw said the charges “fell far short of the threshold of serious professional misconduct.”

    Mr Ingoldby was found culpable of failure to obtain informed consent from a woman who underwent an unsuccessful posterior anal repair in 1997. Although she signed a consent form, the information given to her was judged insufficient to allow her to participate fully in her own care.

    The other charge found proved was a failure to perform necessary preoperative tests before performing a low anterior resection on Trevor Pearson, who had rectal bleeding. A tumour was removed during surgery, but Mr Pearson died of cancer three years later. Documentary evidence indicated that Mr Ingoldby had planned to perform a biopsy but had forgotten.

    Mr Pearson's daughter Sarah was at the hearing and broke down in tears when Mr Ingoldby was exonerated. But other former patients, who appeared as character witnesses in favour of the surgeon, described him as caring and conscientious.

    In a statement released through the Medical Protection Society, Mr Ingoldby said: “After a traumatic and stressful last three years I'm very relieved and look forward to returning to surgical practice.”

    He told the BMJ: “I'll probably try to get some retraining before I look for another job, as it has been a while since I worked.”

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