Police doctor suspended over manslaughter conviction

Image caption,
Dr Marcos Hourmann received a 12-month suspended sentence in Catalonia in 2009

A doctor working for a Welsh police force has been suspended after it emerged he had been prosecuted in Spain over the death of an elderly patient.

Dr Marcos Hourmann, an Argentinian, was convicted of manslaughter in 2009 after he said an 82-year-old seriously ill woman had asked him to end her life.

While awaiting trial, he worked at hospitals in Llanelli, Carmarthenshire, and in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk.

The General Medical Council (GMC) and Dyfed-Powys Police have suspended him.

Dr Hourmann, who lives near Aberystwyth, Ceredigion, was originally charged with murder after the woman's death in 2005, but this was changed to manslaughter in a plea bargain deal, the Spanish newspaper El Pais reported.

He was given a year's suspended prison sentence in Tarragona, Catalonia, and did not serve any time in jail.

According to El Pais, the son and daughter of the woman, Carmen Cortiella, criticised the prosecution, claiming Dr Hourmann was fulfilling their mother's wish to end her suffering.

She had colon cancer, high blood pressure, diabetes and had had a heart attack.

The GMC has blamed the lack of reporting procedures in other European countries for the failure of UK authorities to discover Dr Hourmann's conviction.

Newspaper reports said an "anonymous whistleblower" had alerted UK authorities.

'Serious consequences'

GMC chief executive Niall Dickson said: "Our guidance could not be clearer - doctors must inform the GMC immediately of any criminal convictions they receive.

"If they fail to do so they may face serious consequences.

"It is important that regulators across Europe tell each other when action has been taken against a doctor - unfortunately this does not always happen as it should."

Dyfed-Powys Police said: "Dyfed-Powys Police has a contract with an external agency for the provision of police surgeons.

"We are liaising with them in relation to this matter. The doctor has been suspended pending results of inquiry."

Hywel Dda Health Board said that Dr Hourmann "worked at Prince Philip Hospital for a brief period between 2007 and 2008 and all appropriate pre-employment checks were carried out".

BBC Wales has been unable to contact Dr Hourmann for comment.

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