Thursday 23 November 2017

Doctor at centre of inquiry worked for agency

Dr Omar Hassan. Collins Dublin, Gareth Chaney
Dr Omar Hassan. Collins Dublin, Gareth Chaney
Eilish O'Regan

Eilish O'Regan

A doctor, who was found guilty of professional misconduct this week, most recently worked for a locum agency, the Irish Independent has learned.

Dr Omar Hassan, who was also found guilty of poor professional performance by the Medical Council, was employed in Portlaoise, Mayo General and University Hospital Galway between 2012 and early 2014.

However, it has now emerged that following his suspension in Galway in February 2014, he went on to work for a locum doctors' agency which would have involved him filling in as a medic in other hospitals.

It was not until the Medical Council received a complaint from authorities in Galway hospital in early 2015, that he was subjected to a High Court order to prevent him from practising pending the fitness to practise inquiry.

Following the complaint from Galway the regulator went to the High Court where it obtained the order.

Mr Hassan who was found guilty of 28 counts of poor professional performance and six counts of professional misconduct could not tell the difference between an X-ray for a elbow and an ankle.

The Sudan-born medic went on national radio yesterday saying he was upset by how he was being portrayed.

He said he has not caused any harm to patients and the incident in which he mistook an ankle for an elbow in an X-ray was during a training session.

He said his father was a surgeon in Sudan and had worked in Jervis St Hospital in the 1970s before its closure.

"I have been treated unfairly and very badly with unfair allegations," he told RTÉ's Joe Duffy on 'Liveline'.

Earlier, Health Minister Leo Varadkar ordered the HSE to carry out a review of practices and procedures for staff who move between different hospitals and facilities.

This follows claims that no checks on his competence were carried out as he moved from hospital to hospital.

Mr Varakdar is asking the HSE to ensure that all steps possible are taken to ensure that doctors and other staff who are taken on are qualified to the required standard, and that all recruitment procedures, including verification of references, are completed prior to anyone taking up a post.

He is also asking the HSE to ensure that performance evaluations of health service staff are undertaken on a regular basis and immediately in all situations where concerns are raised about the performance of staff.

"It cannot be left solely to professional regulators like the Medical Council to ensure that doctors are fit to practice. Employers like the HSE, voluntary hospitals and private sector operators also have responsibilities," he said.

The Medical Council said robust assessment of doctors is carried out in advance of granting registration.

A spokeswoman for Portlaoise Hospital said it follows standard recruitment procedures including interview, checking registration, seeking references, referral to occupational health and Garda vetting.

References were received from two surgeons in Sudan. A spokeswoman for the Saolta group, which includes hospitals in Mayo and Galway said it follows standard recruitment procedures but refused to say if both hospitals did any checks on Dr Hassan after he moved from Portlaoise.

Sanctions against Dr Hassan have yet to be determined. He can appeal to the High Court.

Irish Independent

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