Surgeon who burned initials onto patients’ livers faces fresh tribunal after GMC complaint

Medical council believes original five-month removal was ‘insufficient’ and is seeking longer punishment

Sam Hancock@samhancock95
Tuesday 27 July 2021 23:41
<p>This file photo from 2017 shows former liver, spleen and pancreas surgeon Simon Bramhall </p>

This file photo from 2017 shows former liver, spleen and pancreas surgeon Simon Bramhall

A High Court judge has ruled in favour of a fresh medical tribunal into the case of a surgeon who burned his initials on the livers of two unconscious patients.

The Medical Practitioners Tribunal (MPT) originally gave Simon Bramhall a five-month suspension but in an appeal on Tuesday, the General Medical Council (GMC) complained this was an “insufficient” punishment.

Mrs Justice Collins Rice said the previous tribunal – which took place last year – did not “put its finger on precisely what was and was not wrong” with Bramhall’s conduct.

Bramhall, now in his late 50s, was a transplant surgeon at the University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust when, in January 2018, he was given a community order and fined £10,000 by a judge at Birmingham Crown Court after admitting to two counts of assault by beating.

He told police he used an argon beam machine to initial the organs to relieve operating theatre tensions following difficult and long transplant operations in 2013.

Justice Rice was informed during Tuesday’s appeal that in December 2020, an MPT had imposed only a five-month suspension on Bramhall’s medical registration.

Lawyers representing the GMC said the sanction was “insufficient to maintain public confidence” in doctors and surgeons.

The judge, who published her ruling online on Tuesday, after considering arguments at a High Court hearing earlier this month, said she would allow the GMC’s appeal.

“The Medical Practitioners Tribunal did not put its finger on precisely what was and was not wrong with Bramhall’s conduct and sanction accordingly,” she wrote.

“It did not do full justice to this unique case. I allow this appeal on that basis.”

Justice Rice added: “I am satisfied that the right way forward is to quash the sanctions determination and remit the case for a fresh determination by a differently constituted tribunal.”

Bramhall committed the offences at Birmingham’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital in February and August 2013. He had worked in the hospital’s liver unit for 12 years

After being suspended, the liver, spleen and pancreas surgeon pleaded guilty to two charges of assault by beating. He denied the more serious charge of assault occasioning actual bodily harm – a plea which was accepted by prosecutors at the time.

Bramhall resigned from the University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Trust in May 2014, following a disciplinary hearing.

Speaking to the BBC after his suspension he admitted he had made “a mistake”.