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Mother's horror as surgeon who left her unable to speak or breathe after botched thyroid op is allowed to work again
Jo Roche, 43, had routine surgery to remove the thyroid gland on her neckThe operation, due to take up to three hours, was done in 90 minutes and left her barely able to speak after the vocal cords were damaged
Also needed a tube through her neck and into her windpipe to allow her to breathe properlySurgeon was suspended last year after mistreating patients and lying to coronerNow declared fit to work again by the General Medical Council, much to the horror of Mrs Roche and others treated by him
20:10 GMT, 27 December 2012
A mother-of-two who has been left breathing through a tube and barely able to speak after a routine operation went wrong has spoken of her horror that the surgeon is being allowed to work again.
Jo Roche, 43, from Bridlington, had surgery to remove the thyroid gland on her neck. But the operation, which took just 90 minutes rather than the recommended two or three hours, severely damaged nerves linked to her vocal cords.
She was left barely able to speak and the damage led to blockages in her airway. Six months later she had to undergo a complete tracheostomy to fit a tube through her neck and into her windpipe to allow her to breathe properly.
Jo Roche was left breathing through a tube in her neck and barely able to speak after a routine operation to remove her thyroid went horribly wrong
Mrs Roche, a healthcare worker, had to teach herself to talk again and said the ordeal in January 2008 had changed her life and that of husband David, 44 and their two children Calvin, 15, and Poppy, 13, permanently.
Speaking shortly after the operation, she told told the Bridlington Free Press: 'Life’s hard, basically. The tracheostomy looks so ugly and there’s so much that I can’t do that I used to love, like swimming and singing with the kids.
'I had to teach myself to talk again, but my voice is so quiet it’s hard to make myself heard. It’s changed my personality, I tend to just observe things now rather than speak up. Talking is difficult and takes a lot of energy.
'The children can’t really remember how I used to speak. When they see old holiday videos they see me without the tube and realise they had forgotten what my voice was like. I have nieces and nephews who will never know.'
She added that she tires easily, is more prone to infections, and cannot enjoy many of the everyday things she loved.
Egypt-trained vascular and general
surgeon Nayef El-Barghouty was suspended last year after a General
Medical Council fitness to practise hearing found he had lied under oath
to a coroner, and mistreated three patients including Mrs Roche.
Mr El-Barghouty, who worked at
Scarborough Hospital for 15 years, was suspended in July 2011 for a
year but a tribunal has since decided that he can work again when his suspension ends on Saturday.
A panel from the Medical
Practitioners Tribunal Service decided that Mr El-Barghouty can remain a
registered practitioner once his 16-month suspension finishes. He will
be subject to 21 strict conditions, which include no undertaking of thyroid surgery and four months of close supervision.
Egypt-trained vascular and general surgeon Nayef El-Barghouty was suspended last year after a General Medical Council fitness to practise hearing found he had lied under oath to a coroner, but will now be allowed to work again from Saturday
Earlier, Mr El-Barghouty was found to have lied on oath during an inquest, admitting giving 'false and utterly misleading' evidence about Wilfred Taylor, who bled to death in January 2009.
Mr Taylor, 84, had been due to have surgery on an aneurysm in his left leg, but Mr El-Barghouty operated at the wrong site, mistakenly tying off an artery. He was forced to carry out another corrective procedure which led to severe bleeding. Mr Taylor died during the third operation carried out on him in a day.
The Medical Practitioners Tribunal
Service panel hearing Mr El-Barghouty’s case said it still 'remained
concerned' that he had 'not yet fully accepted and adopted the principle
that honesty is a fundamental tenet of the medical profession' – after he had lied under oath to a coroner.
The panel heard evidence from his
mentor Professor Al-Doori, who said that Mr El-Barghouty had been
'slightly bitter' about his suspension, and that he 'had not discussed
with him why he had been dishonest'.
But the panel was 'impressed' with
testimonials and evidence it had seen and 'believed that Mr El-Barghouty
is a better person and doctor'.
Mr El-Barghouty, who has been working
in Saudi Arabia during his suspension, will now be allowed to return to
practice in the UK from December 29 as long as he abides by the 21
conditions for two years.
He will only be allowed to work in the NHS, must notify the GMC upon accepting any job, and remain under
the supervision of an educational supervisor.
the chair of the panel, Dr Vicki Harris, said: '[The panel] regards
lying to a coroner as an extremely serious incident of dishonesty. The
panel remains concerned that Mr El-Barghouty has not yet fully accepted and adopted the principle that honesty is a fundamental tenet of the medical profession.'
She added: 'We want to encourage anyone who has concerns about this doctor to contact the GMC straight away. They need to hear from people directly so they can investigate these cases.'
Mrs Roche described the decision to allow Mr El-Barghouty to work again as a 'slap in the face'
Mrs Roche said in response to the panel's decision: 'I was hoping and praying that he would not be allowed to practice again but I guess I half expected it.
'It would have been nice if he had been struck off – this just feels like a slap in the face for myself and other people.
'I still have to live with the consequences everyday but he doesn't – he can just pick up where he left off. There is no way that he should be allowed to work again.
I worry for other people. I know that anybody who knows me or knows him would never allow themselves into his care but if he moves out of the area then he will be able to do this again.
'I know that I wouldn't be suffering these difficulties if it wasn't for him.'
Among other conditions, Mr El-Barghouty will not be able to work as a locum or work out-of-hours, or undertake thyroid surgery.
'That is a little victory,' she added. 'He had carried out seven thyroidectomies in three years and two of us ended up with a tracheotomy. The odds of something going wrong should be one in 1000.
'Still, you feel sorry for people living in a different area who do not know what he has done.
'I believe that patients should have the right to see their surgeon’s record before having an operation. You can choose which hospital you go to, but we do not have the information on the surgeon.'
Other families in the area are also campaigning for the surgeon to be struck off for good.
Lisa Pickup and her sisters Sharon Pickup and Kerrie Smith have been collecting signatures in their home town of Scarborough, in a bid to keep Mr El-Barghouty off the GMC register following the death of their father Trevor in 2006 after a routine operation.
Miss Pickup said: 'I know he won't come back to Scarborough Hospital but he could get a job anywhere else in the NHS. I want people to be aware of him on a national scale.'
She added that the public response to their petition has been 'unbelievable', adding: 'People were actually queuing up to sign the petition. It has been amazing.'
The Pickups' case is currently under investigation by the GMC.
Back in July, a spokesperson for Scarborough Hospital said that while they could not discuss individual cases, 'dependent on the individual circumstances, if an employment has been terminated it would be very unlikely that the staff member would be reappointed'.
A spokesperson this week said: 'Mr El-Barghouty’s contract with the Trust was terminated in August 2011 following the outcome of the GMC Fitness to Practise hearing. As he is no longer employed by the Trust it would not be appropriate for us to comment further.'