Surgeon to challenge inquiry into operations

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The Independent Online
A SURGEON investigated for his role in three allegedly bungled operations, including the death of one man, has won a High Court action to challenge the validity of the inquiry.

Christopher Ingoldby, a consultant surgeon based at Pinderfields Hospital, Wakefield, West Yorkshire, was suspended in 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 inquiry conducted by the NHS Executive, but yesterday Mr Ingoldby was granted leave for a judicial review into the investigation. He also won an injunction banning publication of the inquiry's report until the conclusion of the review.

Mr Ingoldby still faces 52 separate complaints, 11 of them about deaths, before the General Medical Council brought by former patients, and relatives.

At the High Court in London, Mr Justice Popplewell accepted arguments by Mr Ingoldby's counsel, Andrew Hillier, that he had not had a fair hearing before the panel and never had the chance to respond to allegations made.

Mr Hillier said Mr Ingoldby was "a professional, competent surgeon" and publication of the panel's report would inevitably lead to his vilification.

Mr Hillier told the court: "A man's reputation is at stake. A public body has got the power to damage very seriously that reputation."

Neil Garnham, appearing for the Department of Health, argued there was "a legitimate interest" in the public knowing the contents of the report which might - if adverse to the surgeon - provide the basis for future disciplinary proceedings.

Later, Mr Ingoldby said: "The decision means that this report by the regional NHS Executive will be subject to a judicial review.

"My reason for seeking this judicial review is to have the opportunity to put my case at a fair and impartial panel of inquiry."

He added: "I believe that I am a competent and careful surgeon and I will co-operate fully with any investigation that is carried out. I hope, in due course, to return to work."