Friday 28 July 2017

Hospital defends taking a year to report doctor in misconduct case

Dr Omar Hassan: guilty of poor professional performance. Photo: Gareth Chaney / Collins Photos
Dr Omar Hassan: guilty of poor professional performance. Photo: Gareth Chaney / Collins Photos
Eilish O'Regan

Eilish O'Regan

The HSE hospital where Dr Omar Hassan's lack of competence and potential risk to patient safety caused grave concern has defended waiting more than a year before reporting him to the doctors' regulatory body, the Medical Council.

Dr Hassan (30) was taken off duty in University Hospital Galway in January 2014 but was not reported to the Medical Council until February 2015. During 2014, he was sent by an agency to work in other hospitals.

A spokesman for the Galway hospital, where staff at one stage wondered if Dr Hassam was a qualified doctor, said an internal investigation into the case needed to be concluded before a report could be made.Dr Hassan was found guilty of professional misconduct and poor professional performance at a Medical Council fitness to practise inquiry last week.

After the Galway hospital eventually complained about him to the Medical Council in February 2015, the council moved swiftly to secure a High Court order, suspending him from practising.

However, Dr Hassan had been put on supervised work two weeks after starting employment in the Galway hospital, a year earlier in January 2014, following a number of worrying incidents, including his failure to tell the difference between an ankle and an elbow in an X-ray.

The letter of complaint which was eventually sent by the Galway hospital to the regulatory body in 2015 was dated February 2014.

The hospital spokesman said the internal investigation into Dr Hassan did not begin until April 2014.

This was due to Dr Hassan not agreeing to the terms of reference and the two investigators who were appointed.

The spokesman added: "There was also difficulty in getting two people to investigate the complaints.

"There were further delays as one of the two investigators became ill and was hospitalised and one of the staff making a complaint was also sick."

All of the statements had to be proof-read by Dr Hassan and a final report was not made until February 2015.

Dr Hassan worked in other hospitals through a locum agency in 2014, including at the Bons Secours Hospitals in Cork and Tralee.

Health Minister Leo Varadkar yesterday confirmed that he was still waiting for a report on questions raised by the case.

Dr Hassan started work in Portlaoise in 2012 but moved on to Mayo and Galway, despite concerns being raised about his competence in all three hospitals.

He received a glowing reference from Mayo General Hospital in December 2014, despite being taken off call there.

A spokesman for Bons Secours Hospital in Tralee said Dr Hassan worked there in April and May 2014 and no complaints about his competence were made. He was supervised at all times. Cork Bons Secours said it used a reputable agency.

Irish Independent

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