Complaints could help bar dangerous doctors

Hospital HR departments could be required to complain formally about
dangerous doctors after a damning report into the death of a boy under
anaesthetic.

Since the child’s death, it has emerged that HR managers in the NHS have no
reliable way of checking the disciplinary history of a prospective employee.

The report follows an inquiry that heard the anaesthetist involved
"flitted" from hospital to hospital despite concerns about his
competence.

John Evans-Appiah, who failed part of his exams to specialise as an
anaesthetist, is said to have had more than 40 jobs since arriving in the UK
from Ghana in 1973 with a medical degree from the Ukraine and no references.

Scottish schoolboy Darren Denholme died during a routine trip to an
Edinburgh dental clinic where Dr Evans-Appiah worked.

Reporting the outcome of disciplinary proceedings to the General Medical
Council is at the discretion of hospital trusts. If a trust reports a matter,
the GMC would only disclose it to a prospective employer if it considered it
relevant.

Now, the issue of NHS employers – including hospital trusts – not
complaining to the GMC about unsatisfactory temporary doctors is to be
reviewed.

The report of the fatal accident inquiry – the equivalent in Scotland of an
inquest – into the boy’s death recommends the regulatory body considers what
steps can be taken to deal with the problem. It emerged that Dr Evans-Appiah
had been disciplined by the GMC after an incident at a hospital left a woman
temporarily paralysed. A breakdown in communications meant it was unaware of
the full details of an incident at another hospital.

A GMC spokesman said record-keeping is also an issue for the NHS. He said,
"It is interesting that the NHS does not keep central career records and
that a doctor’s disciplinary history does not follow him from job to job."

By Helen Rowe

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