Skin surgeon who obtained false reference from GP friend is struck off

BMJ 2015; 350 doi: (Published 26 January 2015) Cite this as: BMJ 2015;350:h409
  1. Clare Dyer
  1. 1The BMJ

A plastic and dermatological surgeon who persuaded a GP friend in Ireland to write a false work reference for him has been struck off the UK medical register.

Farrukh Butt, 54, who qualified in Pakistan and worked for 17 years in Ireland, obtained a locum consultant post at Leeds General Infirmary by using a misleading curriculum vitae, but he soon committed a string of surgical errors that were “inconsistent with a doctor performing at the level of a consultant,” a panel of the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service found.

In the case of a patient listed for the removal of a mole and three basal cell carcinomas (BCCs), Butt “removed two skin lesions easily recognised as seborrhoeic keratoses.” In another case he widened the excision of a dysplastic mole on the left side of a patient’s back, rather than the intended melanoma on the right.

He also transposed hair bearing skin on to the temple of a patient without informed consent after removing two small BCCs. The patient later complained, triggering an investigation.

Butt was found guilty of serious misconduct, both in his clinical errors and in lying about his previous experience. The reference he submitted to English locum agencies in 2010 claimed that his “most recent employment” had been at the Dispensary Medical Centre, a GP partnership in County Cork, Ireland; in fact, he had never worked there. He obtained a reference from Sushil Ranga, a GP partner who had formerly worked under him at Cork University Hospital.

The ruse was exposed when, after Ranga left the partnership, his former GP partner, Hugh Doran, found a copy of the reference letter undated and unsigned. He took no action until a letter arrived from an English locum agency asking for a reference, at which point he took legal advice and contacted the General Medical Council.

In November 2012 Butt and Ranga admitted poor professional practice at an Irish Medical Council fitness to practise hearing, and both were censured. Ranga called the episode a “soul destroying experience.” Butt said that he “humbly apologised” and that he had acted out of character because of his shame at being unemployed after moving to the United Kingdom.

Butt did not attend his UK fitness to practise hearing. “The panel has no evidence of insight or of any attempts by Dr Butt to recognise and remediate his failures,” said the panel’s chairman, Michael Whitehouse, and it therefore concluded that Butt “represents a continued risk to patients.”


Cite this as: BMJ 2015;350:h409

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