Extra ban for surgeon in Bristol heart scandal

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Indy Lifestyle Online

Restrictions on a surgeon banned from operating on children for three years after the Bristol heart babies scandal have been increased by the General Medical Council for reasons of public safety.

Janardan Dhasmana, one of three surgeons disciplined in the wake of the deaths of children at Bristol Royal Infirmary, was banned for a further year yesterday and new conditions were imposed to bar him from carrying out operations on adults unless under supervision.

After a two-day hearing, Professor Ken Hobbs, chairman of the GMC professional conduct committee, said the new restrictions were "for the protection of the public". Mr Dhasmana, 61, had been recalled by the committee for a review of the ban, which was due to expire on 20 July.

The surgeon was originally barred in 1998, when he was found guilty by the GMC of serious professional misconduct in connection with the deaths of 29 children at Bristol. Mr Dhasmana told the hearing this week he did not intend to continue working with children.

An inquiry into the Bristol scandal which investigated 1,900 complex heart operations on children at Bristol Royal Infirmary between 1984 and 1995 is due to be published imminently. More than 90 children are believed to have died unnecessarily and the death rate among children undergoing serious heart surgery at Bristol was twice the national average.

Then investigation is likely to lead to far-reaching changes in NHS practice and administration. The report is to be handed to ministers in the next few weeks and is likely to be made public next month.

Between 1988 and 1995 Mr Dhasmana, a consultant paediatric cardio-thorassic surgeon, carried out delicate heart operations on children using the so-called "arterial switch" operation. In 38 operations 20 babies died.

The GMC was told that despite being told of the high death rates in child surgery in Bristol, Mr Dhasmana paid insufficient regard to the safety and interests of some children before deciding whether to operate. He failed to seek adequate retraining or advice.

Rosalind Foster, for the GMC, said: "Too many babies were dying, whatever the complications they presented." But she said Mr Dhasmana was aware of the problems and had tried to stem the tide of fatalities. "He attended the post- mortems and was wracked with self-doubt at times. He tried to review his results ­ sadly that analysis was flawed."

Profesor Hobbs said the imminent inquiry report was not relevant to the GMC decision to tighten the ban. He told Mr Dhasmana it would be "inappropriate" for the ban to end.

Two other doctors, James Wisheart and John Roylance, were struck off by the GMC when the scandal emerged.

A spokesman for Mr Dhasmana saidthe surgeon "fully understands the GMC's decision in respect of this aspect of his work. He accepts the GMC's decision to allow him to continue his programme of rehabilitation in adult cardiac surgery."

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