HSE suspends doctor in row over 'gastric band' patients
The patients had paid a private clinic in Dublin for operations in Hungary
A DOCTOR accused of using public hospital facilities to see patients from a private cosmetic surgery clinic was yesterday suspended by the Health Service Executive (HSE).
Dr Laszlo Ruscsak (45), who was employed as a locum anaesthetist in Ennis General Hospital, is accused of using the public facilities to examine patients who attended the Haven Cosmetic Surgery Clinic in Dublin which recently closed.
He was employed as a locum, or stand-in consultant, in Ennis, Co Clare, since July through an agency and was not allowed to see any private patients as part of his contract.
The patients at the centre of the controversy had paid a private clinic in Dublin and had operations in Hungary. But Dr Ruscsak carried out check-ups and aftercare at the public hospital in Clare.
Patients, who said they paid around €7,500 to the doctor for a gastric band surgery package -- aimed at reducing their weight -- claim he is now uncontactable. And a number said they have developed complications.
The Haven Clinic -- which is now closed -- operated from Stillorgan in Dublin organising operations in Hungary for patients who were told they were suitable for a gastric band operation as a means of dramatically reducing their weight.
It has also emerged that Dr Ruscsak told patients he could be contacted at several other public hospitals, including Letterkenny, Cavan, Mayo General, Merlin Park Galway, Wexford General and St Luke's Kilkenny.
A spokesman for Ennis General Hospital where he was working until yesterday confirmed he has now been suspended and the HSE is taking the allegations made by callers to the 'Liveline' programme very seriously.
"The consultant anaesthetist mentioned on yesterday's 'Liveline' has been suspended by his employer Global Medic while an investigation is carried out into the alleged use of public hospital addresses as contact points for private work.
"His appointment via a medical staff agency (Global Medic) followed standard vetting procedures which confirmed that he is properly qualified and registered with the Irish Medical Council," he said.
The spokesman said the HSE always seeks to ensure the best possible standard in both the recruitment and management of staff and "where there are outcomes to investigations, that the appropriate action is taken and that it is also notified to the relevant professional and regulatory authorities".
The producers of 'Liveline' yesterday received an email from Dr Ruscsak that gave the names and medical details of two of the patients who contacted the programme -- an action that breaches confidentiality.
'Liveline' was told by one caller that after the operation in Hungary she had to undergo emergency surgery in Tallaght Hospital in Dublin to have part of her stomach removed.
The woman, who had the original operation in Budapest, said she was told the gastric band was wrongly placed and the band had corroded through her stomach.