BMA ex-chief failed in post-op care of some patients

Image caption,
Mr Johnson was BMA chairman from 2003 to 2007

An ex-head of the British Medical Association failed to involve himself in the post-operative care of four patients, a disciplinary body finds.

The General Medical Council said there were times when BMA duties took precedence for James Johnson, 64, a Cheshire-based surgeon.

However, the hearing rejected many other allegations involving his clinical and surgical practice.

His lawyer said Mr Johnson, BMA head from 2003-2007, had been "vindicated".

The surgeon, who worked at two hospitals in Runcorn and Warrington in Cheshire, had been accused of "acting with arrogance", and of carrying out amputations when other operations should have been considered.

But Martin Ford, representing Mr Johnson, said that despite "inappropriate and lurid" headlines, the panel had found no patient had suffered because of Mr Johnson's care, that he had not carried out any unnecessary amputations and any allegation of clinical incompetence was proved wrong.

He added that the hearing had resulted in Mr Johnson's "total vindication".

It had been claimed Mr Johnson had spent too much of his time in his role as chairman of the BMA, and too little time caring for his patients and keeping his surgical practice up to date.


The GMC did find Mr Johnson did sometimes not properly involve himself with post-operative care of his patients because he was away in London on BMA duties.

It said that "at the very least", he should have "picked up the telephone" in order to find out how his patients were faring post-operatively.

He was also found that, on occasion, Mr Johnson did not involve himself in discussions with other healthcare staff prior to surgery.

But the GMC panel cleared him of most of the charges, including all the more serious ones.

One charge related to Mr Johnson striking a house officer on the forehead with a needle during an operation, then sewing up the patient with a 2.5 inch bulldog clip still inside a leg, despite being told a piece of equipment was missing.

But the doctor he struck with the needle told the panel it was an accident - and probably her own fault as she got too close.

The clip was discovered after the patient had been sewn up by the surgeon, but Mr Johnson followed correct procedure by ordering an X-ray to find it.

Dr Johnson was said to be "relieved" following the hearing.

The GMC panel will now decide what, if any, sanctions should be imposed on him.

A BMA spokesman said: "Many doctors take on additional roles and responsibilities outside of, and in addition to, their NHS commitments.

"It is also very common for practising doctors to hold senior positions alongside their NHS work and these roles can often be complementary.

"However a doctor's clinical responsibilities should always take priority over any other non-clinical roles they may have."

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