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‘We need fresh faces’: Eljamel inquiry demand as Anas Sarwar calls for clear out

The Scottish Labour leader reacted to campaigners' concerns about links with government adviser Jason Leitch.

Disgraced Eljamel working in Libya.
Disgraced Eljamel working in Libya.

The inquiry into former NHS Tayside surgeon Sam Eljamel needs “fresh faces” to avoid breaking campaigners’ trust, Anas Sarwar claimed.

The Scottish Labour leader reacted to concerns that government adviser Jason Leitch is too close to the health board, where he was employed.

In recent weeks, campaigners angry at the national clinical director’s role in the Covid Inquiry WhatsApp controversy demanded that he step back from overseeing investigations into Eljamel.

Mr Leitch was on the books at NHS Tayside when the doctor was suspended in 2013 for harming patients.

Queen Elizabeth hospital inquiry

Mr Sarwar said any inquiry must avoid the “obstruction” he experienced in seeking answers at the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital in Glasgow.

An inquiry was ordered there after deaths were linked to infections at the hospital, including that of 10-year-old Millie Main.

Mr Sarwar said trust has meanwhile been “breached” in the Covid inquiry.

Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar said trust had been broken. Image: Andrew Milligan/PA

“I took a keen interest for example into the inquiry at the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital in Glasgow,” he said.

“I can honestly tell you senior officials have always been an obstruction to that inquiry.

“I hope that families requiring justice when it comes to the Eljamel inquiry don’t face that same obstruction.

“That means fresh faces, people we can have trust in, not the same old faces of the past that have broken trust with the public.”

Eljamel botched dozens of operations and left patients with lifelong injuries between 1995 and 2013 while working in Dundee as a neurosurgeon.

Jason Leitch arrives at UK Covid Inquiry in Edinburgh.
Jason Leitch arrives at UK Covid Inquiry in Edinburgh. Jane Barlow/PA Wire

The Scottish Government previously insisted Prof Leitch is not involved in overseeing investigations into the surgery scandal despite officials in his department working on it.

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “Scottish Government officials are progressing the necessary work to establish both the independent clinical review and the public inquiry. Once established, those will be carried out and chaired independently of both the Scottish Government and NHS Tayside.”


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