Intended for healthcare professionals


Surgeon sacked for “misconduct and misjudgment”

BMJ 2000; 321 doi: (Published 05 August 2000) Cite this as: BMJ 2000;321:321
  1. Clare Dyer, legal correspondent
  1. BMJ

    A British surgeon who was suspended on full pay for two and a half years was finally sacked last week without notice after an independent review concluded that “serious acts of misconduct and misjudgment” justified summary dismissal. Christopher Ingoldby, aged 52, consultant general surgeon at Pinderfields Hospital in Wakefield, West Yorkshire, is appealing against his dismissal.

    Pinderfields and Pontefract NHS, his employers, has been hit with a raft of negligence claims over his work—84 in all, including 13 on behalf of patients who died after operations. The family of Brian McDermott, whose death precipitated Mr Ingoldby's suspension, is pressing West Yorkshire police to reopen an earlier manslaughter investigation in the light of the review's findings. The surgeon is almost certain to face charges of serious professional misconduct from the General Medical Council, which received a copy of the review report last week.

    He was suspended by the trust in January 1998 after an inquest jury recorded a verdict of misadventure on Mr McDermott, a patient with cancer who experienced massive bleeding and had a cardiac arrest five hours after Mr Ingoldby removed his spleen and stomach. The ligatures on his splenic artery and vein had slipped. The NHS Executive set up an inquiry under its “serious untoward incident procedure” into the case of Mr McDermott and two other patients. The inquiry was headed by Liam Donaldson, now the government's chief medical officer for England. But Mr Ingoldby sought judicial review in the High Court, claiming that the inquiry breached natural justice because he had not been allowed to see patients' case notes and comment on them. He won an interim injunction to block publication of the inquiry's report.

    The full judicial review hearing never took place, and the Department of Health agreed with Mr Ingoldby not to publish the report unless and until he was sacked and struck off by the GMC. A new disciplinary inquiry was set up, which took 14 months before finally reporting last week that Mr Ingoldby's dismissal could go ahead. The trust said in a statement that it had so far settled 30 of the 84 claims, stretching from 1989 to 1997. David Russell, a solicitor representing 60 former patients and families, said: “If the West Yorkshire police refuse to reopen the investigation into the death of Brian McDermott then his family will apply to the home secretary to have an outside force appointed to conduct a full investigation.”

    Embedded Image

    Christopher Ingoldby is appealing against his dismissal

    (Credit: PHOTONEWS)

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