Tuesday 10 December 2019

'Baby P' doctor lied in an attempt to get Irish job

Baby P - whose full name was Peter Connelly
Baby P - whose full name was Peter Connelly
Sabah al Zayyat at her home in Essex. Picture: Graham Hussey

Kevin Keane

A DOCTOR at the centre of the Baby P scandal in the UK was found to have lied about her past when applying for a post in a busy Irish hospital.

Dr Sabah Al-Zayyat, who did not attend yesterday's fitness to practise hearing into her behaviour, has been found guilty of professional misconduct by the Irish Medical Council.

When she applied for a position at Tallaght Hospital in Dublin in 2008, she did not disclose that she was restricted by authorities in the UK because of her role in the lead-up to Baby P's death.

The child, 17-month old Peter Connelly, died from multiple injuries, including a broken back just two days after he was examined by Dr Al-Zayyat on August 1, 2007.

He had suffered months of abuse at the hands of his mother Tracey Connelly, her boyfriend Steven Barker and her boyfriend's brother Jason Owen - who all received jail sentences. It later emerged that despite more than 50 injuries inflicted on little Peter over an eight-month period, a series of healthcare workers failed to raise concerns over his welfare.

His tragic case led to a nationwide review of UK social services.

The case had a number of Irish connections: Tracey Connelly's own mother was Irish and baby Peter's father, who had no role in the abuse, was also from Ireland.

Yesterday, the Medical Council heard that Dr Al-Zayyat, who is originally from Pakistan, had conditions attached to her registration in the UK by the General Medical Council (GMC) from 11 August 2008 to 21 November 2008.

She was subsequently suspended from the register until 2011 when the GMC agreed to her request to be voluntarily removed from the register. meaning she could no longer practise medicine in the UK.

At the time she was reported to have suffered a nervous breakdown and was under psychiatric care.

The council's fitness to practise inquiry heard yesterday that efforts to contact the doctor have been unsuccessful.

She first registered in Ireland in 2002 and worked a series of short-term contracts in the Adelaide and Meath hospital in Tallaght totalling about two and a half years over the four and a half year period between July 2002 and December 2006.

The inquiry heard that on November 9, 2008 - just three months after she had conditions imposed on her UK medical registration - she applied for a post in the Adelaide and Meath hospital as a part-time locum consultant paediatrician with a special interest in community child health.

She failed to inform the hospital in her online application that her registration in the UK was subject to conditions.

She did not get the post and while her application was being processed it was discovered that she had lied in a series of questions and checks about her medical record.

Barrister Ronan Kennedy, representing the CEO of the Medical Council, said Dr Al-Zayyat could not have had any doubt what the conditions imposed on her meant.

She was found guilty on one count of Professional Misconduct for failing to inform Tallaght hospital that her GMC registration was subject to conditions.

She could now face being struck off the register of medical practitioners in Ireland..

Following the hearing, Tallaght hospital stated that the doctor's work was "through an agency" and added: "As is standard practice for the use of agency staff, all appropriate due diligence was undertaken."

"No issues have been raised regarding the care this doctor provided while working in Tallaght Hospital." It also highlighted how its "robust vetting procedures" led to her disqualification from the application process.

Irish Independent

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