Surgeon faces inquiry over `bungled operations'

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The Independent Online
THE GENERAL Medical Council is to investigate a surgeon for his role in more than 30 allegedly bungled operations and diagnoses, including one procedure that led to the death of a patient.

Christopher Ingoldby, a consultant surgeon based at Pinderfields Hospital, Wakefield, West Yorkshire, was suspended last January amid allegations that his techniques had claimed at least one life and left others needing corrective surgery.

It prompted his employer, Pontefract and Pinderfields NHS Trust, to commission an independent clinical review by the NHS Executive, which has led to at least 50 complaints.

Earlier this month, Mr Ingoldby launched a High Court challenge to the inquiry seeking a judicial review.

Now the inquiry team has referred the three cases it was investigating to the GMC's Fitness to Practice Directorate. And The Independent understands that a further 30 complaints involving Mr Ingoldby have been submitted to the GMC for consideration.

Mr Ingoldby faces the added burden of a second investigation, which could see him struck off the medical register if evidence of serious professional misconduct is established.

The NHS Executive investigation into Mr Ingoldby's work has focused on three cases, including that of Susan Wainwright, who won a six-figure sum from Wakefield Health Authority after a keyhole technique to remove her gall bladder, conducted by Mr Ingoldby, left her with liver damage.

Brian McDermott, 64, a former Wakefield rugby league player, bled to death four hours after Mr Ingoldby removed his stomach and spleen. A verdict of misadventure was recorded.

Trevor Pearson, 62, needs constant care after his spleen was allegedly torn during bowel cancer surgery.

These three cases will form the basis for the GMC inquiry. If it feels there is a case to answer its Preliminary Proceedings Committee will take one of four courses of action, including no further action, a warning letter, a referral to its health unit or for full consideration by the Professional Conduct Committee. If the matter does go before the conduct committee, it will have to decide whether Mr Ingoldby can continue to practice.

Philipa Hanson, a spokeswoman for the GMC, said: "I can confirm that NHS Executive report has been sent to us. We will now decide what action needs to be taken. That is, whether this is a conduct case, a case of his performance or one motivated by health problems."

Mr Ingoldby, who lives in Roundhay, Leeds, has been a surgeon for more than 20 years. He also worked privately until his suspension at the Methley Park BUPA Hospital in Leeds. He has previously defended his work claiming his death and injury records were "no different from my colleagues".

Last night his lawyers, Le Brasseur J Tickle, of London, said he was on holiday and unavailable for comment.

A spokesman for the Medical Protection Society, the medical insurance fund to which Mr Ingoldby subscribes, said: "We do not comment on any individual case while it is ongoing."

A spokesman for the Northern and Yorkshire NHS Executive said: "We can confirm that the report has been sent to the General Medical Council. But as a result of a hearing in the High Court on July 29, the NHS Executive and the individual review panel members will, at this stage, be making no further comment about the progress of the current independent inquiry."