Surgeon wins fitness to practise appeal

A TOP surgeon, suspended over his treatment of elderly patient Mildred Swain, has had that blot removed from his career by a High Court judge. Timothy Ross Cheatle, who accepted that his conduct was not up to the mark in some aspects of Mrs Swain s car

A TOP surgeon, suspended over his treatment of elderly patient Mildred Swain, has had that blot removed from his career by a High Court judge.

Timothy Ross Cheatle, who accepted that his conduct was not "up to the mark" in some aspects of Mrs Swain's care at Oldchurch Hospital, Romford, was suspended for 10 months by the General Medical Council in May 2007 after a finding that his fitness to practise was impaired.

Mrs Swain, 77, of Dagenham, died in April 2002 after complications set in following an operation to resolve a blocked artery in her thigh.

The GMC found Mr Cheatle guilty of a "catalogue of serious failures and omissions over a period of almost four weeks", before concluding that his fitness to practise was impaired due to misconduct.


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The GMC said the consultant in general and vascular surgery failed to take sufficient notice of signs of infection developing. He was also accused of failing to properly explain and discuss alternative treatment options and the possible risks of future surgery.

But on Friday he successfully challenged the findings in the High Court.

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Mr Justice Cranston said the GMC was entitled to pinpoint certain failings by the medic, noting that "the key failure was Mr Cheatle not appreciating the gravity of Mrs Swain's condition on her readmission".

However, Mr Cheatle's failings did not justify the GMC's finding that his fitness to practice was impaired, ruled the judge, particularly given his unblemished career in surgery.

The GMC panel should also have considered the "whole picture of care in the hospital at the time"and the considerable pressure under which Mr Cheatle was working, added Mr Justice Cranston.

He said: "There was significant understaffing at consultant surgeon level. Mr Cheatle and his co-consultant had a heavy workload with some 50 to 60 patients - sometimes increasing to 80 - spread across the hospital over several sites.

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