Analysis

Poor governance in the award of honours and degrees in British medicine: an extreme example of a systemic problem

BMJ 2016; 352 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.h6952 (Published 02 February 2016) Cite this as: BMJ 2016;352:h6952

This article has a correction. Please see:

  1. Peter Wilmshurst, consultant cardiologist
  1. 1Royal Stoke University Hospital, Stoke on Trent ST4 6QG, UK
  1. peter.wilmshurst{at}tiscali.co.uk
  • Accepted 4 December 2015

Peter Wilmshurst questions the system that awarded academic fellowships and an MBE to a surgeon found guilty of serious professional misconduct

In 2002 I raised questions about the failure of medical institutions to respond adequately to the decade of reports about the alleged financial and research misconduct of the surgeon Anjan Kumar Banerjee and of concerns about his clinical skills.1 Banerjee was erased from the Medical Register for more than five years (2002-08), following almost two years suspended, for serious professional misconduct. Yet in the 2014 Queen’s birthday honours Banerjee was awarded an MBE “for services to patient safety.”2 Two months after the award, and after Members of Parliament and the press were made aware of his record of misconduct, Banerjee’s MBE was forfeited.3

In the seven years since he has been allowed to return to practise as a doctor three medical royal colleges have honoured Banerjee by making him a fellow. The University of London has also ignored repeated requests to withdraw his Master of Surgery (MS) degree during the 15 years since it was confirmed to be based on fraudulent data. These events raise questions about governance in the award of national and academic honours to doctors.

Banerjee and Peters at the GMC

In November 2000 a hearing of the professional conduct committee (PCC) of the General Medical Council (GMC) found Banerjee guilty of serious professional misconduct for falsifying research, and he was suspended from the Medical Register for one year.4

At a separate committee hearing in February 2001 Banerjee’s research supervisor, Tim Peters, was also found guilty of serious professional misconduct.5 Peters, the committee found, had agreed to be a coauthor with Banerjee of a paper he ought reasonably to have known was fraudulent,6 having been warned of the problem by colleagues, and of an abstract he …

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