Leeds & West Yorkshire

Dr Nihal Weerasena tribunal: Surgeon claims he was 'a scapegoat'

Nihal Weerasena
Image caption Dr Nihal Weerasena did not attend the first day of the medical tribunal in Manchester

A surgeon claims he was "a scapegoat" for "long-standing shortcomings" at a hospital's child heart unit, a medical tribunal has heard.

Dr Nihal Weerasena is accused of various failures in the care of six children and one adult while employed by Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust between 2008 and 2012.

He felt he was the victim of a "cover-up", the Manchester tribunal heard.

The trust referred the doctor to the General Medical Council (GMC) in 2014.

Dr Weerasena is not attending the hearing, in which the GMC claimed his fitness to practise is impaired because of misconduct in relation to a number of operations in which some children died.

He was referred after a review of the trust's paediatric care services, which included looking at clinical outcomes.

'Campaign against him'

Children's heart operations at Leeds General Infirmary had previously been stopped for a fortnight in 2013 after safety concerns.

A report later found the unit did not have excessive mortality rates.

Outlining the individual charges against Dr Weerasena, Chloe Hudson - representing the GMC - told the panel he had shown "substandard practice" in his treatment of a seven-year-old patient in 2012 in a "complex" surgery.

He is also alleged to have failed to keep an accurate record of surgery on a six-year-old patient in November 2010.

Ms Hudson said an expert witness criticised his operation on an eight-year-old patient in September 2010 to repair narrowing of the arteries into the heart.

The tribunal heard he also failed to seek senior surgical help during the procedure and failed to explain in his typed operation report why the patient had died.

Ms Hudson said: "In essence, the doctor says that there has been a campaign against him to cover up the long-standing shortcomings of Leeds Teaching Hospitals' paediatric heart surgery department and in effect he has been made a scapegoat for departmental failures."

The hearing is scheduled to last up to three weeks.

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