Liver surgeon, Simon Bramhall was suspended from the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Birmingham in late 2013 after searing his initials on his patients’ livers. Now, he has been given a 12-month community order and a £10,000 fine.
One patient underwent a life-saving operation carried out by Mr Bramhall, during which he used an argon beam machine to write his initials on her liver, which were 4cm in height. After the donor liver failed a week later, another operating surgeon noticed Mr Bramhall’s initials on the organ and Mr Bramhall was later suspended. He later resigned from his job at the hospital in 2014.
Prosecutors at Birmingham Crown Court accepted Mr Bramhall’s ‘not guilty’ pleas to charge of assault occasioning actual bodily harm, but Mr Bramhall admitted two counts of assault by beating, despite there being no suggestion that he actually ‘beat’ the patients.
Sally Green, a Trainee Legal Executive at the Medical Accident Group says, “Criminal behaviour cannot be tolerated particularly in places where vulnerable people put their utmost faith in medical professionals. I cannot help but feel that Mr Bramhall has been let off lightly. Although the hospital reassure that there was no impact on the quality of his clinical outcomes, this has caused victims ongoing psychological harm and distress.” The Court heard that Mr Bramhall’s actions were a “naive and foolhardy” attempt to relieve tension in the operating theatre, but prosecutors argued it was done without any regard to the patients’ feelings. Judge Paul Farrer QC said that Mr Bramhall demonstrated “conduct born of professional arrogance of such magnitude that it strayed into criminal behaviour” stating that “what [he] did was an abuse of power and a betrayal of trust that these patients had invested in [him]”. He was ordered to pay a £10,000 fine and sentenced to a 12-month community order.
Despite resigning from his job at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Mr Bramhall continues to work for the NHS, now in Herefordshire. It will be the decision of the General Medical Council (GMC) to decide whether Mr Bramhall will be struck off or allowed to continue working in this profession.
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