Monday 16 December 2019

Doctor found guilty in damning inquiry worked in fourth hospital

Dr Omar Hassan arriving for the Medical Council hearing earlier this month. Photo: Gareth Chaney / Collins Photos
Dr Omar Hassan arriving for the Medical Council hearing earlier this month. Photo: Gareth Chaney / Collins Photos
Eilish O'Regan

Eilish O'Regan

A doctor who mistook an X-ray of an ankle for an elbow managed to work in a fourth hospital, earning lucrative fees through a locum agency, the Irish Independent has learned.

Dr Omar Hassan (30), who was found guilty of professional misconduct at the Medical Council this week, was sent by an agency to provide medical cover in Our Lady's Hospital in Navan.

The revelation that he worked in yet another hospital in January 2014 raises new questions about checks on doctors to protect patient safety.

It has already emerged he worked in hospitals in Portlaoise, Mayo and Galway during 2012 and 2014 despite concerns about his competence.

Serious concerns were first raised about his abilities as a doctor in 2012 but he continued to find work through a doctors' agency up to 2015.

The fitness to practise hearing was told how he was able to move between the three hospitals.

A spokesman for Our Lady's Hospital in Navan confirmed yesterday Dr Hassan was employed there from January 6 to January 8 in 2014.

Dr Hassan, a native of Sudan, was placed on adminstrative leave by University Hospital Galway in early 2014 .

But it took another year before a complaint was made about him to the doctors' regulatory body the Medical Council.

The Irish Independent understands that a month after he was placed on adminstrative leave by the Galway hospital he joined a doctors' agency.

In early 2015 he was also offered a job at Navan through the agency in its orthopaedics department.

In February 2015 the Medical Council received a complaint about him.

The regulator quickly went to the High Court and secured an order to suspend his right to practise pending the recent fitness-to-practise inquiry.

The HSE has been unable to explain why each hospital appeared to rely on his written references from two doctors in Sudan when hiring him rather than contacting his senior colleagues in Ireland.

Medical Council chief executive Bill Prasifka told the Irish Independent yesterday that too many doctors were still failing to sound the alarm about colleagues who may pose a safety risk.

"We know that the vast majority of doctors are providing care to a high standard but where there is a patient safety risk, there's a need for doctors, other health professionals and employers to notify the Medical Council of any serious concerns they may have in relation to a colleague.

"We are working with the HSE and our other partner organisations within the health sector to try and encourage such complaints in order to protect the public to the best of our ability.

"We are dependent on the information we receive to take action, and can move to immediately suspend a doctor if there is a risk to patient safety."

It also emerged the Department of Health has yet to introduce legislation here to make it mandatory for all EU trained doctors to undergo an English language test before registration.

The UK has already moved to bring in this law. In the first year, half of EU-trained doctors who applied for registration there failed the English test.

A spokeswoman for the Department of Health said: "The Health (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill will require all applicants for registration as medical practitioners with the Medical Council, including EU doctors to satisfy the council that they have sufficient knowledge of the language necessary to practise as a medical practitioner in Ireland.

"It will be a matter for the Medical Council to decide how person should satisfy that requirement. Any language testing will be proportionate and take into account the person's native language, the language of the college where the person got their medical degree and any other relevant circumstances.

"Following a Government decision on November 17, parliamentary counsel has been assigned to draft the Bill.It is a matter of priority.

"Following drafting and Government approval of the draft nill, the bill will be published," she added.

Dr Hassan has indicated he intends to appeal.

Irish Independent

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