Leeds & West Yorkshire

'Reckless' child heart surgeon Dr Nihal Weerasena struck off

Nihal Weerasena
Image caption Dr Nihal Weerasena was found to have shown "reckless disregard for patient safety"

A child heart surgeon who made a number of errors at a hospital unit has been struck off.

Dr Nihal Weerasena was found to have committed various failures in his care of five children and one adult patient while employed by Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust.

He was sanctioned after being found guilty of misconduct by the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service (MPTS).

The MPTS ruled he had shown "reckless disregard for patient safety".

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Among the charges found proven, the MPTS ruled Dr Weerasena had shown "substandard practice" in his treatment of a seven-year-old patient in 2012 in a "complex" surgery.

However, he was cleared of missing a key event during the operation out of his typed report, which had appeared in his handwritten note.

'Cover-up'

He also failed to keep an accurate record of surgery on a six-year-old patient in November 2010, the panel found.

An allegation involving his care of a sixth child was not proved.

The MPTS said Dr Weerasena's misconduct, failure to demonstrate insight or take effective remedial action was "fundamentally incompatible with continued registration".

It said: "Mr Weerasena should not practice again for public safety reasons and to protect the reputation of the profession."

Dr Weerasena was referred to the General Medical Council in 2014 after the Trust carried out a review of paediatric care services, which included looking at clinical outcomes.

The review came the year after children's heart operations at Leeds General Infirmary were stopped for a fortnight on the orders of NHS England over concerns about the safety of the unit.

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

The surgeon did not attend the hearing but explained his absence in writing and alleged he had been the victim of a "cover-up".

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