Doctor in Aids scare struck off for ignoring risk

The doctor at the centre of an Aids scare was yesterday struck off the medical register after admitting he did not have an HIV test for eight months after an ex-lover warned he was at risk.

Dr Patrick Ngosa, married with three children, who has vanished since his identity was made public, was found guilty of serious professional misconduct by the Conduct Committee of the General Medical Council (GMC).

Professor Sir Herbert Duthie, who chaired the hearing, said Dr Ngosa had failed to put the safety of patients foremost and had "seriously and persistently" misled the GMC - who first questioned him on the issue last June - and others.

"His behaviour was a betrayal of his patients' trust and undermines the trust placed by the public in the profession. Such behaviour cannot be tolerated," Sir Herbert said. The committee would protect the confidentiality of doctors who acted responsibly in such circumstances, he added.

Rosalind Foster, for the GMC, said a former lover of Dr Ngosa contracted the virus and warned him around 1 May that he might be at risk.

The woman's consultant then made repeated efforts to persuade the Zambian- born doctor to address the potential problem and passed details to the GMC in June when he did not. But in a series of letters and telephone calls to health officials, Dr Ngosa denied even having the affair.

He continued applying for jobs in the NHS and worked as a locum in obstetric and gynaecological wards until 13 January this year.

Only when finally forced to take a test, which proved positive, did he admit the relationship with the unnamed woman. He finally told the GMC last month.

Miss Foster said the 39-year-old doctor had a "blatant disregard" for his responsibilities. He had been dishonest about his affair and was determined to remain in practice "at, it would appear, almost all costs, irrespective of the risk to patients."

There were still some concerns that he had worked elsewhere than the hospitals in London, Essex, Gloucestershire and Warwickshire which were already contacting 1,752 former patients considered to be at small risk from contact with him.

But Nicola Davies QC, for Ngosa, said his dishonesty was not deliberate. "It was an inability to accept what may have occurred. It was fear ... which prompted this man's actions." She pointed out there had been a four- month gap between the GMC's letters to Dr Ngosa last June and notification in November that he was to face the Conduct Committee.

Until his name became public at the weekend, he had intended attending the hearing. He recently sat exams for further qualifications and had had discussions about whether alternative jobs in the NHS might be possible.

There has been speculation that he has returned to Zambia, where he is head of an extended family.