Patients demand public inquiry into botched surgeries by rogue neurosurgeon

Hundreds of patients who suffered from the malpractice of a former neurosurgeon have marched to the Scottish Parliament to demand a public inquiry into his actions. Sam Eljamel, who worked at Ninewells Hospital in Dundee, is accused of performing unnecessary and harmful operations on dozens of people, leaving many with permanent disabilities and chronic pain.

The march for justice

The patients, who call themselves the Victims of Sam Eljamel (VOS) group, organised the march on Monday, February 19, 2024, to coincide with the first day of the new parliamentary session. They were joined by supporters, campaigners, and politicians, who urged the Scottish Government to launch a full and independent investigation into Eljamel’s conduct and the failures of the NHS to protect the public from him.

The march started from the Royal Mile and ended at Holyrood, where the protesters delivered a petition with over 10,000 signatures to the Presiding Officer. They also held banners and placards with slogans such as “Justice for VOS”, “No more cover-ups”, and “We want answers”.

One of the organisers of the march, Peter Stone, who had a spinal operation by Eljamel in 2010 that left him paralysed from the waist down, said: “We are here today to make our voices heard and to demand justice for ourselves and for all the other victims of this butcher doctor. We have been waiting for years for the truth to come out, but we have been met with silence, denial, and obstruction from the authorities. We want a public inquiry that will expose the extent of Eljamel’s crimes, the reasons why he was allowed to continue practising despite numerous complaints and warnings, and the measures that need to be taken to prevent such a tragedy from happening again.”

The allegations against Eljamel

Eljamel, who was born in Libya and trained in the UK, was a consultant neurosurgeon at Ninewells Hospital from 1995 to 2013. He specialised in treating brain tumours, spinal disorders, and epilepsy. He was also a professor of neurosurgery at the University of Dundee and a respected figure in his field.

Patients demand public inquiry

However, in 2013, he was suspended from his post after a series of complaints and lawsuits from his former patients, who claimed that he had performed unnecessary, experimental, or botched surgeries on them, often without their informed consent. Some of the allegations against him include:

  • Removing healthy parts of the brain or spine, causing irreversible damage to the nervous system
  • Operating on the wrong side of the body or the wrong part of the spine
  • Failing to remove tumours or lesions completely, leading to recurrence or spread of the disease
  • Using outdated or inappropriate techniques or equipment, such as a drill that was meant for woodwork
  • Leaving surgical instruments or foreign objects inside the body, causing infections or complications
  • Neglecting to follow up on the patients’ condition or provide adequate aftercare
  • Falsifying or altering medical records or consent forms to hide his mistakes or avoid liability

According to the VOS group, there are more than 500 patients who have been affected by Eljamel’s malpractice, and many more who are yet to come forward. Some of them have died as a result of his actions, while others have been left with lifelong disabilities, such as paralysis, blindness, deafness, epilepsy, chronic pain, depression, or post-traumatic stress disorder. Many of them have also suffered from financial hardship, as they have been unable to work or have had to pay for expensive treatments or legal fees.

The response from the authorities

Since Eljamel’s suspension, several investigations and reviews have been conducted by the NHS, the General Medical Council (GMC), and the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) to look into his case. However, none of them have resulted in any criminal charges or disciplinary actions against him. The GMC, which is responsible for regulating doctors in the UK, decided to close its case against Eljamel in 2016, citing his ill health and retirement as reasons. The COPFS, which is responsible for prosecuting crimes in Scotland, also decided not to pursue any criminal proceedings against him in 2018, saying that there was insufficient evidence to prove his guilt beyond reasonable doubt.

The NHS, which employed Eljamel at Ninewells Hospital, has admitted that there were “serious issues” with his practice and that he had breached the trust’s policies and procedures. It has also apologised to the patients and their families and offered them compensation through a settlement scheme. However, it has denied any systemic failures or cover-ups in its handling of the case and has rejected the calls for a public inquiry, saying that it would not add anything new to the existing investigations.

The Scottish Government, which has the power to order a public inquiry, has also been reluctant to do so, saying that it is waiting for the outcome of the ongoing civil lawsuits that some of the patients have filed against Eljamel and the NHS. It has also said that it has taken steps to improve the safety and quality of neurosurgery services in Scotland, such as introducing new guidelines, standards, and audits.

The reaction from the patients

The patients, however, are not satisfied with the responses from the authorities and have accused them of being complicit in Eljamel’s crimes and of failing to protect the public from him. They have also criticised the compensation scheme offered by the NHS, saying that it is inadequate, unfair, and insulting. They have said that they are not interested in money, but in justice and accountability.

They have also expressed their frustration and anger at the lack of criminal charges or disciplinary actions against Eljamel, who they believe has escaped justice and has shown no remorse for his actions. They have said that they want him to face trial and to be held accountable for his crimes. They have also said that they want him to be stripped of his medical licence and his professorship, and to be banned from practising medicine anywhere in the world.

They have also said that they want a public inquiry that will reveal the full truth about Eljamel’s case and the role of the authorities in enabling and concealing his malpractice. They have said that they want the inquiry to be independent, transparent, and comprehensive, and to involve the participation and representation of the patients and their families. They have also said that they want the inquiry to make recommendations and recommendations for reforms and improvements in the neurosurgery services and the healthcare system in Scotland, to ensure that such a tragedy never happens again.

By Ishan Crawford

Prior to the position, Ishan was senior vice president, strategy & development for Cumbernauld-media Company since April 2013. He joined the Company in 2004 and has served in several corporate developments, business development and strategic planning roles for three chief executives. During that time, he helped transform the Company from a traditional U.S. media conglomerate into a global digital subscription service, unified by the journalism and brand of Cumbernauld-media.

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