Botched internal inquiry hearing into Dr Usha Prasad at St Helier Hospital as doctors fight death from Covid- 19

Dr Usha Prasad

Epsom and St Helier University Hospital Trust has hit the headlines by allowing the Times (behind paywall) access to their intensive care unit to see the heroic work of doctors and nurses fighting to save people’s lives from the scourge of Covid 19.

This highly commendable act brings home to the public the work of the NHS saving lives and the heartbreak caused by the Uk’s appalling death toll from the pandemic.

Yet while all this was going on the trust chose to hear an appeal by Dr Usha Prasad in the very week when Covid 19 admissions are expected to peak taking away highly skilled consultants away from the front line caring for patients not only fighting the scourge of Covid 19 but from other life and death surgery involving heart, kidney and liver disease. They also tried to take away consultants working for other trusts and a private hospital to bolster their case against her.

Professor Stephen Powis Pic credit: NHS Improvement

The timing of the appeal hearing appears to go against advice from the top of the NHS as prescribed by NHS Resolutions and by Professor Stephen Powis, national medical director of NHS England, NOT to hold such hearings when the NHS is under such pressure.

I checked with the press office of NHS Resolutions and they have supplied me with the guidance for such hearings. They really should only be held if there is an absolute necessity and immediate risk to patient safety.

  The guidance says: “We recommend that serious consideration should be given at this time as to whether alternatives to exclusion or substantial restrictions on clinical practice can be considered, so that the practitioner is not removed from the workplace at a time when there is such immense pressure on clinical staff. “

In Dr Usha’s case there was no immediate risk to patient safety as she is currently a locum cardiologist at Pinderfields Hospital in Yorkshire. There have been no complaints there, quite the opposite, and neither have the General Medical Council ruled she is not fit to practice.

Yet the trust decided to rush ahead with this hearing and not surprisingly, in the current situation, came to grief.

The original plan was for a one day hearing with five witnesses for the trust in the morning and for Dr Usha Prasad’s witnesses in the afternoon. The hearing was organised by Bevan Brittan, a law firm ( more taxpayers money for lawyers). The chair was Claire McLaughlan   an independent consultant, and Associate Director of  the National Clinical Assessment Service with an interest in the remediation, reskilling and rehabilitation of healthcare professionals. The case was also being followed by Dr Zoe Penn, Medical Director NHS England ,London Region and Lead for Professional Standards. She is sitting on the panel with Claire McLaughlan.

It went wrong from the beginning. Instead of starting in the morning, it didn’t start until the afternoon. Two of the five witnesses didn’t attend because, unsurprisingly, they had urgent clinical duties in the middle of a pandemic. None of Dr Prasad’s witnesses were heard as there was not enough time and there will have to be another day set aside for the hearing.

Dr Richard Bogle cardiologist: Pic credit; richardbogle.com

The five people who were due to attend for the trust were extremely busy. They are Dr Richard Bogle, cardiologist at Sr Helier and St George’s ( see CV here):Dr James Marsh, medical director for the trust; Dr Peter Andrews. clinical director and renal specialist; Dr Yousef Daryani, a cardiologist from Ashtead Hospital; and Dr David Fluck, medical director, from the Ashford and St Peters NHS Foundation Trust. The last two did not attend.

Dr James Marsh: medical director. pic credit: Epsom and St Helier University NHS Trust.

Who is missing for the trust is Dr Perikala, the more junior doctor, who made the patient safety allegations in an anonymous letter to among others, Jeremy Hunt, then health secretary presumably expecting he should rush down to St Helier Hospital and put a stop to Dr Prasad immediately. His letter – the subject of three employment tribunal hearings – for some reason does not factor in this hearing.

Altogether I find as a layman this is an extraordinary state of affairs- petty bureaucracy run riot. The tragedy is that this is happening when thousands of NHS patients are dying and medical staff are completely stretched. It undoes all the commendable work the trust has done to bring public attention to how the NHS is doing its best to help people in their direst hour of need.

11 thoughts on “Botched internal inquiry hearing into Dr Usha Prasad at St Helier Hospital as doctors fight death from Covid- 19

  1. What an absolute farce. Are these really the best organisational skills we can expect from senior healthcare professionals? More tax payers money into the black hole of the NHS legal fees budget. Who’s responsible for this mess and when are they going to take charge?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. not exactly public if it’s behind a paywall….sounds like blatant propaganda to me simply to influence a bunch of rich people who political leanings let them read the times….

    i also wonder if any of these people were even asked permission before their CV’s and photographs were published online….

    but yep, despicable state of affairs…..especially when some are getting fined £10k (no jury or trial or anything) for meeting with other people….i mean wtaf?

    Like

  3. Brilliant stuff, David. I wonder what the fools who are running this show are making of your impeccably sourced material…

    Look forward to chatting when you hear back from HSBC.

    Best,

    Henry

    On Tue, 19 Jan 2021, 19:11 Westminster Confidential, wrote:

    > davidhencke posted: ” Dr Usha Prasad Epsom and St Helier University > Hospital Trust has hit the headlines by allowing the Times (behind paywall) > access to their intensive care unit to see the heroic work of doctors and > nurses fighting to save people’s lives from the scourg” >

    Liked by 1 person

  4. This is Disgusting . NHS became racist. Country fighting with Covid and NHS treating racism with a Cardiologist Consultant Dr Usha Prasad.
    We want justice. NHS

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Absolutely shocking to see them taking their vendetta against a professional doing her job and using the taxpayers money on extended legal battle over a solitary cardiologist with bullying tactics at these times of pandemic public health crisis..am glad you been able to bring this up to the public domain for scrutiny !

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Pingback: Exclusive: General Medical Council investigation exonerates Dr Usha Prasad of any medical failings | Westminster Confidential

  7. “Mr. Hencke, you are doing an excellent job, thank you for your tremendous support to Dr. Usha Prasad, the victim of failing health systems. Dr. Prasad had the courage to challenge inappropriate and wrong decisions and stand for justice. In my view, Dr Prasad won her case on the day she decided to stand firm and reject the unfounded allegations against her. Unfortunately, most doctors just retire, resign or move away to other places in the hope that the new place may be better than the one before. Moving jobs is not the solution, reforming cultures and subcultures in the health system is the way forward, all of us have a duty to reform the failing health systems. Thousands of decent doctors and people like you are behind Dr. Usha Prasad, well done Usha, and well done Mr. Hencke for reporting this.”

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Pingback: Unfit for Purpose: The NHS appeal panel that upheld the sacking of Dr Usha Prasad | Westminster Confidential

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