A consultant surgeon who was appointed an MBE in last week’s Queen’s Birthday Honours for “services to patient safety” is a serial fraudster who has harmed patients and was struck off the medical register in 2002 for gross professional misconduct.
Anjan Kumar Banerjee, 54, who works as a locum surgeon at Bedford Hospital and is deputy managing director of Pope Woodhead, a life sciences consultancy, told a local newspaper he was “really proud” to receive the honour. “It is a mark of recognition for my work and an incentive to carry on the good work.”
It appears the Cabinet Office Honours Committee, which selects candidates for the awards, was unaware of Dr Banerjee’s background. In 2000 he was involved in one of the most notorious cases of research misconduct in recent medical history. He was found guilty of falsifying a scientific paper which had been published in 1990 but was covered up for a decade.
He was awarded a degree by the University of London and made a professor by the Royal College of Surgeons based on the fraudulent research. He was later suspended from the medical register and his co-author, Professor Tim Peters, was also found guilty of serious professional misconduct for his part in the cover up.
Two years later Dr Banerjee was again found guilty of serious professional misconduct for financial dishonesty and was struck off the medical register. He had misled patients about the length of NHS waiting lists to induce them to go private and had sought payment for treatments not performed. Concerns were also expressed about his clinical skills.
He was restored to the register in 2007. Under General Medical Council rules, doctors who are struck off may apply for re-instatement after five years. He now uses the name Swapu Banerjee and specialises in drug safety and clinical risk management as head of development consulting at Pope Woodhead, as well as operating part time at Bedford hospital.
Peter Wilmshurst, a cardiologist at the University Hospital of North Staffordshire and a campaigner on medical research fraud, said: “Mr Banerjee did awful things and only eight years after getting back on to the medical register he is rewarded with an MBE.
“If you have got a record of misconduct going back to the late 1980s, you would have to do something very remarkable in the next eight years to deserve an award. But I have not heard of him doing anything.”
A spokesman for the Cabinet Office said: “We are currently looking into the MBE awarded to Dr Banerjee. Like any other nomination, it will have been considered on merit based on the information provided to the relevant independent committee, in this case the Health Committee.”
A spokesman for Bedford Hospital said: “All necessary employment checks were carried out by the trust when he was appointed.”
In a statement to The Independent, Dr Banerjee said: “I deeply regret the actions that led to my suspension from the medical register in 2000 and erasure in 2002, and believe that I have learnt from these experiences. Since that time I have worked in a wide variety of ways to restore my reputation.”
“Following a rigorous clinical re-entry programme… I was re-appointed to a (part-time) NHS consultant surgeon position and moved to Bedford in February 2014. All the hospitals I have worked at since 2007, and all employers since 2002, have been fully informed of my past.
“In both my medical and business life I am committed to the field of patient safety.”