Consultants 'warned' of risk to patients


Consultants at a Co Clare hospital where a 39-year-old woman died after three operations had written to the then minister for health, Mary Harney, three years earlier to warn patients’ lives were at risk, a Medical Council fitness to practise hearing was told this morning.

Eileen Barrington SC, representing Syed Naqvi, who was a consultant surgeon at the Mid-Western Regional Hospital Ennis, gave details of the letter written to Ms Harney which warned the “immediate provision of a CT scanner was required”.

It was “madness” that critically ill patients were being transported miles to have the scan, the letter said. They also raised concerns about the number of surgeons at the hospital which was “below standard safety requirements”. And they wrote to the Medical Council with the concerns.

Mr Navqi faces 11 allegations of professional misconduct and or poor professional performance in connection with the care of his patient, Martina Sherlock, a mother of 13, who died in December 10th.

Among the allegations, two were related to the alleged failure of Mr Naqvi to obtain a CT scan for Mrs Sherlock.

This morning, Mr Naqvi said the consultants did not receive a response to their letter from Ms Harney, and there was no response from the Health Service Executive. But a later investigation by the Health Information and Quality Authority resulted in the closure of emergency surgery at Ennis in 2009.

Defending his decision not to send Mrs Sherlock to Limerick for CT scans after she developed complications from her first operation, Mr Naqvi outlined the time it would take to organise the scan and to transport the patient. He said there wasn’t any acute ambulance service to take a seriously ill patient at the time.

“I would not let my sister go in her state,” he said.

The case continues.