The Courier

Renewed calls for criminal probe as shamed surgeon’s time at Ninewells put under the microscope

Mr Eljamel during his time in Dundee.

There have been renewed calls for a criminal investigation and public inquiry into allegations made against a former Tayside surgeon.

Muftah Salem Eljamel’s former patients spoke out ahead of a BBC Scotland documentary which will put his time at Ninewells Hospital under the microscope.

Mr Eljamel remains the subject of civil cases in relation to surgery carried out which are still going through the Court of Session in Edinburgh.

© DC Thomson
Ninewells Hospital

Kirriemuir man David Vile, 48, and former Dundee DJ Pat Kelly, 58, have told The Courier a criminal inquiry is “the only way we will finally get to the truth”.

Mr Vile,  who previously claimed he had been left on a cocktail of medication after undergoing two discectomy operations by Mr Eljamel in 2007 and 2009, said: “Mr Eljamel carried out failed and botched surgeries, leaving patients with life-changing conditions and disabilities, in long-term persistent pain.

“Former patients and their families need answers as to why Mr Eljamel was allowed to get away with this, who knew what and when, and why was he not stopped sooner?

“Many patients, including myself, have been left unable to work, unable to do many of things that we used to be able to do.

“There are no winners here but the losers are most definitely the patients.

“I also support a call for a criminal investigation — Mr Eljamel needs to be held accountable for his actions.”

Former Dundee DJ Pat Kelly, 58, demanded Police Scotland launch a criminal inquiry after claiming he was the victim of a “botched operation” by Mr Eljamel in 2007.

Mr Kelly continues to suffer chronic back pain and believes the operation was never actually carried out — despite the fact he was opened up on the operating table.

He said: “After four long years of battling with NHS Tayside to get the truth, I believe now that the whole of Scotland has the opportunity to see the personal misery and destruction Muftah Salem Eljamel caused to his patients.

“The documentary will be a wake up call as this fight for answers continues.

“My health has suffered through all of this and worse still NHS Tayside has continued to take no responsibility for what took place in the theatres at Ninewells Hospital under this surgeon.

“After the story broke about Muftah Salem Eljamel in May 2014 I was saddened to hear and read some of the horrific stories of botched surgery carried out by this man.

“I now believe that this was not medical negligence but criminal negligence carried out by him.

“I now want a criminal inquiry into Eljamel which is the only way we will finally get to the truth.

“We need justice and closure.

“Every employee who helped cover up the truth about Eljamel should be utterly ashamed of themselves.”

Monday’s documentary is the first in a new investigative series which will be shown on BBC 1 Scotland which will ask “why the surgeon wasn’t stopped earlier”.

Mr Eljamel — who had been a consultant neurological surgeon at NHS Tayside since 1995 — was suspended in 2014 after a patient had surgery on the wrong spinal disc at Ninewells Hospital in Dundee.

He also had to step down from his teaching and research posts at Dundee University after the interim order by the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service.

The GMC later allowed Mr Eljamel to remove himself from the medical register, after ruling it was in the best interests of patients.

A national hotline was subsequently set up to identify possible victims of Mr Eljamel and was besieged by calls.

The Scottish Government said it was “very sorry” after a series of operations left patients claiming their long-term health had been affected— but it ruled out an inquiry, stating it was “satisfied” that a “thorough and wide-ranging” investigation by NHS Tayside will “prevent this happening again in future”.

Mr Eljamel was involved in a series of controversies after giving up his licence to practice.

He continued to jet around the globe on speaking engagements and faced a suggestion of apparent misrepresentation by Dundee and Liverpool universities.

At the start of this year Mr Eljamel sold his house in Newport, Fife, to prepare for a new life abroad.

The 61-year-old also applied for his Edinburgh neurosurgery business to be struck off and dissolved.

He is understood to have property and a neurosurgery business in America and he also has links to the Philippines.

 

 

TIMELINE

February 2014 – Mr Eljamel is suspended from his post at Ninewells Hospital in Dundee after a patient underwent surgery on the wrong spinal disc. He also has to step down from his teaching and research posts at Dundee University following the interim order by the Medical Practitioners’ Tribunal Service.

March 2015 – Former Dundee DJ Pat Kelly demands a public inquiry after claiming he was the victim of a “botched operation” by Mr Eljamel in 2007. Health Minister Shona Robison later rejects the inquiry calls.

Many more people come forward to say they were also left with long-term health difficulties following surgery by Mr Eljamel. 

The Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service determins the interim order of conditions against Mr Eljamel, imposed in February 2014, should remain in place and be subject to review.

May 2015 – A dedicated national hotline is set up by top personal injury lawyer Patrick McGuire of Thompson’s to identify possible victims of Mr Eljamel.

Mr Eljamel sparks fury as he jets off to Brazil to address guests at the opening ceremony of the 15th International Photo-dynamic Association (IPA) World Congress at the five-star Belmond Copacabana Palace Hotel in Rio de Janeiro.

It later emerges that the IPA did not know about his suspension.

August 2015 – Mr Eljamel gives up his licence to practise ahead of a hearing to decide if he should be struck off. 

September 2015 – The Scottish Government said it was “very sorry” after a series of operations left patients claiming their long-term health had been affected – but it ruled out an inquiry, stating it was “satisfied” that a “thorough and wide-ranging” investigation by NHS Tayside would “prevent this happening again in future”.

October 2015 – Personal injury lawyer Patrick McGuire admits that medical negligence cases against Mr Eljamel could take years.

February 2016 – Liverpool University investigates claims that Mr Eljamel may be pretending to work there as he continues to jet around the globe on lucrative speaking engagements.

March 2016 – Mr Eljamel comes under fire after designing his own tartan.  The colour scheme infuriates his former patients as it states: “White is for purity, sincerity and peace; black for strength and courage; green for hope and love; red for honour and sacrifice; blue for strength and loyalty; and yellow for generosity and charity”.

July 2016 – Mr Eljamel is accused of giving the impression he was representing Dundee University on a speaking engagement in China.

October 2016 – Mr Eljamel’s appearance at the Royal Society of Medicine conference in London is hastily cancelled.  He is removed from the schedule when it is brought to the attention of organisers that he no longer holds a medical licence.

February 2017 – Mr Eljamel incurs the wrath of the doctors’ regulator and the Scottish Government’s chief medical officer.  He is told to take down false information from his website that claimed he was still registered with the GMC despite the fact he gave up his licence to practise in August 2015 ahead of a hearing to decide if he should be struck off.

February 2018 – Mr Eljamel sells up and leaves Newport as he prepares for a new life abroad.