Tuesday 28 February 2017

Doctor in misconduct case got double pay

Eilish O'Regan

Eilish O'Regan

Dr Omar Hassan. Photo: Gareth Chaney / Collins Photos
Dr Omar Hassan. Photo: Gareth Chaney / Collins Photos

A junior doctor who was put on administrative leave after serious concerns about his competence was paid a salary by the HSE for six months - while he also earned fees in a private hospital.

It is the latest twist in the case of Dr Omar Hassan (30), who was taken off duty within weeks of starting a job at University Hospital Galway in January 2014. Consultants wondered if he was a qualified doctor after he could not tell the difference between an X-ray for an ankle and an elbow.

However, the Galway hospital did not report him to the Medical Council, the doctors' regulatory body, until a year later in February 2015. Dr Hassan was found guilty of professional misconduct and poor professional performance at a fitness to practise inquiry last week.

It has now emerged that although he was put on administrative leave by the hospital in February 2014, he continued to be paid a HSE-funded hospital salary until the middle of July that year. A senior house officer's annual salary ranges from €39,000 to €54,000.

The hospital continued to pay him a salary for the duration of his contract while a disciplinary process was under way.

However, Dr Hassan also worked in the Bon Secours hospitals in Tralee and Cork in 2014 while on leave from the Galway hospital.

But major questions remain about the level of checks on Dr Hassan between 2012 and 2014 as he moved from hospitals in Portlaoise to Mayo and then to Galway, despite serious concerns about his abilities.

The HSE said yesterday that its initial investigation indicated appropriate checks were carried out in advance of Dr Hassan being offered his first job in Portlaoise Hospital in 2012. After concerns about his ability emerged, he resigned.

He went on to Mayo hospital where he received a glowing reference from a consultant "in good faith" for a locum agency, as reported in the Irish Independent.

This was given before the hospital's decision to take him off call due to concerns, the HSE said yesterday. The consultant said he contacted the agency and asked for the reference to be withdrawn. He also acted to prevent Dr Hassan from getting work after a preliminary interview in Kerry General Hospital and Cork University Hospital.

The HSE said it was concerned Galway did not carry out proper checks on references.

Dr Hassan was also offered a job in Navan Hospital early last year.

Irish Independent

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