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French surgeon is struck off after “actively disengaging from the regulatory process”

BMJ 2017; 359 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.j5418 (Published 22 November 2017) Cite this as: BMJ 2017;359:j5418
  1. Clare Dyer
  1. The BMJ

A French orthopaedic surgeon, whose registration with the General Medical Council was suspended for practising in the UK without a licence, has been struck off after he stopped responding to regulatory authorities.

Xavier Ohl, who qualified at the University of Reims in 2008, was described by a senior doctor as “one of the brightest young orthopaedic surgeons of his generation” and invited to the UK to do clinical and research work. He was given full registration and put on the specialist register, but had to show evidence of his proficiency in English to obtain a licence to practise.

Ohl scored 6.5 on the International English Language Testing System test, but the GMC required 7.5. He was sent a “certificate of full registration as a medical practitioner with specialist registration,” but not a licence. The letter he received stated in bold type that he could not practise in the UK.

He nevertheless performed and assisted in several operations at Charing Cross Hospital and assisted in others at the private King Edward VII Hospital in early 2015.

Ohl did not attend his first medical practitioners tribunal in November 2016, but in emails to the GMC he claimed that he had not known that he was not allowed to assist in operations or perform surgery under supervision. The tribunal did not accept this claim, found him to have acted dishonestly, and suspended him for 12 months.1

Suspensions typically end with a review hearing, where a doctor is expected to show evidence of remediation or insight into previous misconduct and of working to keep up clinical skills. But Ohl did not attend his review hearing, which heard that he had stopped answering GMC emails.

Announcing the sanction of erasure, Liz Ball, chair of the tribunal, said that Ohl had “compounded his misconduct” and “actively chosen to disengage from the regulatory process and that he has, therefore, shown disregard for the system, which is designed to protect patients and the public.”

She added, “In 2016 the tribunal afforded Dr Ohl the opportunity to demonstrate that he had developed insight into his misconduct and taken steps to remedy his actions. Dr Ohl has failed to take up that opportunity.”

Ohl has returned to Reims, where he works at the Centre Hospitalier Universitaire. Under a European Union directive, the GMC notifies the regulatory authorities in other EU countries if it erases or restricts the practise of doctors on its register. Those receiving the information may act on it or not as they see fit.

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