Controversial doctor now working at top London hospital
Widow says ‘we don’t have a voice’
By Anthony Bond
Last updated at 4:38 PM on 3rd November 2011
A controversial doctor alleged to have carried out botched operations which killed or seriously injured more than 20 patients is working again at a London hospital, it emerged today.
Gideon Lauffer was suspended from the medical register for six months in 2010 following the deaths of two people.
It was found that he had acted inappropriately and not in the best interests of some of his patients.
However, now that the suspension period is over he is able to resume practicing and is now working at St Thomas’ Hospital.
Previously-fit pensioner Terry Harris, 68, died after Mr Lauffer perforated his bowel during a routine gall bladder operation in 2007.
Allan Scamell, 63, died in September 2007 following surgery for a hernia in which Mr Lauffer allegedly sewed his bowel to the wall of his abdomen.
In another case, Mr Lauffer performed surgery which led to damage to a patient’s testicle.
A General Medical Council (GMC) panel determined that some of his actions were inappropriate, not in the interests of the patient and not of a standard to be expected of a registered medical practitioner.
However, the six-month suspension was a far more lenient sentence than the GMC itself wished to impose.
It had recommended to its independent panel that Mr Lauffer be struck off. But it was overruled by the panel which makes the final decision on disciplinary hearings.
Earlier this year, a review hearing placed conditions on Mr Lauffer’s registration, including that he needed supervision.
Mr Lauffer is now working for Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust.
The case has led for calls for the system to be overhauled to protect other patients.
The GMC, which is answerable to Parliament, is powerless to challenge the panel.
Mr Harris’ widow, Ann, 60, today told the Evening Standard: ‘This isn’t just about Terry. This man seems to have done a lot of damage and we don’t feel we have a voice.’
The GMC is now seeking a right of appeal in cases where it thinks panelists have been too lenient.
Niall Dickson, chief executive of the GMC, said today: ‘Our role is to protect patients. This is undermined when panels do not take the action we believe is needed to do this.
‘We are pressing for the right of appeal of these decisions as part of our ongoing reforms to ensure that patients are fully protected.’
A statement from Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust said: ‘The Trust can confirm that Gideon Lauffer is currently employed as a clinical fellow in the emergency medicine department.
‘He has returned to work to retrain in a non-surgical specialty and works as a junior doctor under the close supervision of consultant staff.
‘He was employed by the trust with full knowledge of the conditions placed on his practice by the GMC and remains in close contact with the GMC, as do the staff supervising his retraining.
‘This is in line with national arrangements whereby NHS organisations assist in supporting medical staff who are returning to work.’
Mr Lauffer, who lives in Hendon, told the Evening Standard: ‘I want to apologise to my former patients and their families for any mistakes that I have made.’