Leeds child unit doctor guilty of failings

NHS in crisis
NHS in crisis

A surgeon who claims he was made “a scapegoat” for “long-standing shortcomings” at a Leeds hospital’s child heart unit has been found guilty of misconduct.

Dr Nihal Weerasena committed various failures in his care of five children - some who died - and one adult patient between 2008 and 2012 while employed by Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust.

The trust referred the doctor to the General Medical Council (GMC) in January 2014 following a review of its paediatric care services the previous year which included looking at clinical outcomes.

Children’s heart operations at Leeds General Infirmary had previously been stopped for a fortnight at Easter 2013 on the orders of NHS England after safety concerns about the unit. A report later concluded the unit did not have excessive mortality rates.

A medical tribunal found Dr Weerasena’s treatment of a seven-year-old patient in March 2012 was sub-standard in a “complex” surgery.

He was cleared of omitting a key event during the operation in his typed report which had appeared in his handwritten note.

But the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service ruled Dr Weerasena failed to keep an accurate record of surgery on a six-year-old patient in November 2010.

The tribunal will now decide whether his fitness to practise is impaired.

The doctor has not attended the hearing in Manchester but explained his absence in writing but alleged he had been the victim of a “cover-up”.

Dr Nihal Weerasena has not attended the hearing in Manchester but explained his absence in writing and alleged that he was a scapegoat for a “cover-up”.

Opening the case for the General Medical Council last week, Chloe Hudson said: “In essence the doctor says that there has been a campaign against him to cover up the ‘long-standing shortcomings’ of Leeds Teaching Hospitals’ paediatric heart surgery department and in effect he has been made a scapegoat for departmental failures.”