Surgeon could be Struck Off for 'fiddling surgery results'

Leading heart surgeon Ian Wilson has been sacked by one of Birmingham's largest hospitals for 'fiddling' his results and now faces being struck off alltogether


A leading heart surgeon could be struck off after being sacked for allegedly falsifying the results of his operations, The Sunday Telegraph can disclose.

Ian Clark Wilson is accused of changing information to make his results appear better on a database designed to allow patients to compare the success rates of surgeons.

He is now under investigation by the General Medical Council and could lose his licence to practise if found guilty.

Mr Wilson was dismissed by one of Birmingham's largest hospital's following an internal investigation into the claims, The Sunday Telegraph has learnt, and has since been banned by the GMC from undertaking any private practice. He is, however, working unpaid at another hospital in the West Midlands, where he is being allowed to carry out operations under the supervision of a more senior consultant.

Ian Clark Wilson is under investigation by the General Medical Council and was dismissed by one of Birmingham's largest hospitals
Ian Clark Wilson is under investigation by the General Medical Council and was dismissed by one of Birmingham's largest hospitals. Photo: BBC

Mr Wilson's sacking is embarrassing for the Government as it comes after David Cameron praised heart surgeons for taking the lead in publishing data on the outcomes of operations, in a bid to bring greater transparency to the process.

Later this year, doctors in 10 other surgical specialities are due to begin publishing similar data and the allegation that a leading doctor has been able to game the system will raise questions over the validity of the whole scheme.

Mr Wilson was dismissed from Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham, part of the University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust (UHB) after an internal investigation suggested he was under-reporting the time patients spent on a heart-lung bypass machine.

The Trust alleged he had shortened the length of time his patients were recorded as on heart-lung bypass to give the impression that his operations were going more smoothly than they were.

Studies have shown there is a higher risk of complications, or even death, for patients who spend longer on these machines.

The routine inquiry was triggered by series of deaths at the hospital, though Mr Wilson's dismissal is understood to relate to concerns over the data and not his ability as a surgeon.

In a statement UHB said: "Ian Wilson's contract was terminated by the trust in October 2013 following an internal investigation. His dismissal is the subject of a pending employment tribunal and the trust is therefore unable to comment further at this stage."

Mr Wilson has since been working at the Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust unpaid for three months. His contract there will terminate on June 20.

The trust said in a statement: "The Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust confirmed that cardiac surgeon Ian Wilson is working at New Cross Hospital under supervision.

Trust chief Executive David Loughton added: "He is here to be skilled to return to practice in line with his GMC order. I understand that his dismissal from his previous employer was not related to clinical concerns. I have no knowledge of whatever conduct issues there were with his previous employment."

He added: "I have discussed this with a number of people in this organisation and we don't have any concerns about his clinical practice."

Mr Loughton said the three months of supervised work would help Mr Wilson in applying for a job and said that if the training worked, he would be willing to offer Mr Wilson a job.

Under a series of restrictions placed on Mr Wilson by the GMC, pending the result of its investigation, the surgeon is not allowed to continue his private practice, he must confine his work in the NHS to cardiothoracic surgery under the supervision of a named consultant and he must inform the GMC if he accepts an offer of clinical employment elsewhere, including outside of the UK.

Should the GMC decide there is a case to answer Mr Wilson would appear before a Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service 'fitness to practice panel', which could see him suspended or even struck off.

Mr Wilson, who lives in a £730,000 semi-detached house in the sought after Birmingham suburb of Harborne, was popular with many patients in the city area for his work at Queen Elisabeth Hospital. Writing anonymously on an online directory of surgeons, a number of patients from the hospital praised him for saving their lives.

One said: "Mr Wilson mended me. He replaced my aortic valve and repaired my tricuspid valve 6 weeks ago, I feel like a new person. He has given me and my family a new life. Could never thank him enough for all his care and attention. Forever grateful."

Another wrote: "Mr Wilson saved my life I needed 5 heart bypass grafts without his skill and expertise and also that of his team I would not be here today to write this. My family and I cannot thank him enough for what he did for me. six months ago."

But the dismissal and investigation into his conduct could prove deeply damaging to his reputation.

To compound the embarrassment Mr Wilson remains on the executive of the Society for Cardiothoracic Surgery, which first set up the database, although it is now run by University College London.

In 2012 The Telegraph revealed that the database had not been updated for three years and had been left to drift in a row over funding, despite David Cameron praising the scheme for raising standards in heart surgery.

Last year Jeremy Hunt, the Health Secretary, sparked fury among surgeons when he said doctors who refuse to publish their data will be 'named and shamed'.

A senior NHS source told the Telegraph: "Heart surgeons were taking the lead on this and it is important the system is seen to be robust."

A spokesman for the Society for Cardiothoracic Surgery said the public should still have faith in the date collected by its National Adult Cardiac Surgery Audit. She said: "We have been actively collecting, analysing and benchmarking data since as early as 1977, and we are international leaders in the field, having published data down to individual surgeon level since 2005.

"The public should be reassured that there are systems in place whereby the speciality association will contact individuals and their trust in advance of publication to help them check and validate their data for accuracy. For surgeons and their teams, it is important that data are risk adjusted appropriately and that steps are taken to ensure the data are accurate prior to publication to avoid misleading patients and the public."

The society added that the database has shown a 25 per cent reduction in deaths following heart surgery since 2003.

Mr Wilson did not respond to our requests for comment.


Source: The Telegraph



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