Family Of A Patient Given Fatal Overdose Call For Doctor To Face Trial

PUBLISHED: 16:31 04 February 2010 | UPDATED: 11:13 04 May 2010

THE family of a patient given a fatal overdose by an overseas locum today called for the doctor to face trial in the UK after a coroner said his death amounted to manslaughter. Cambridgeshire North and East Coroner William Morris recorded a verdict of unl

THE family of a patient given a fatal overdose by an overseas locum today called for the doctor to face trial in the UK after a coroner said his death amounted to manslaughter.

Cambridgeshire North and East Coroner William Morris recorded a verdict of unlawful killing for David Gray and accused German doctor Daniel Ubani of gross negligence.

He also criticised out-of-hours care in this country saying that "weaknesses remain in the system" and made a string of recommendations, including the setting up of a database for foreign doctors working here.

After today's verdict, Mr Gray's son Stuart, himself a GP, called for Dr Ubani, who administered the fatal dose of diamorphine to his father, to face justice in a UK court.

He said: "My father's tragic death happened because of Dr Ubani's actions and because of serious failings within the Cambridgeshire Primary Care Trust and (out of hours care provider) Take Care Now.

"We want to see him tried under UK law for his death but we also want safeguards put in place nationwide to prevent this happening again.'

In a damning conclusion to the 10-day inquest at Wisbech, the coroner described Dr Ubani, 67, as "incompetent and not of an acceptable standard'.

He went on to describe Dr Ubani's induction as "insufficient and inadequate' and said he was "tired out' when he started work on February 16, 2008, the day Mr Gray died.

Dr Ubani, who refused to attend the inquest and refused to comment on today's verdict, cannot be extradited to face trial in the UK because he has already been tried in Germany over Mr Gray's death.

Mr Gray, 70, died after he was injected with 100mg of diamorphine - 10 times the recommended daily dose.

He was suffering from kidney stones when he was treated by Dr Ubani at his home in Manea, near Ely, two years ago.

The inquest heard Dr Ubani was working on his first out-of-hours shift in Britain and had only arrived in the country the day before.

After the verdict was announced, North-east Cambridgeshire MP Malcolm Moss said: "The coroner's verdict has given clarity into the circumstances of the death of my constituent, but justice will not prevail as Ubani has already escaped standing trial in Britain by being charged with a lesser crime in Germany.

"Ubani - a cosmetic surgeon - appears never to have practised as a GP in his life, had a very limited grasp of English, had not undergone training in this country, and had not read the induction booklet that he was given before his shift.

"The university where he claims to have obtained his medical degree has no record of him ever taking the medical exam. Ubani had been convicted of malpractice twice before in Germany, but this was not known to the NHS as his referees - who had never even worked with Ubani - provided false information in their statements. It is outrageous that this so-called doctor was ever allowed near a patient in this country.

"To add insult to injury for David Gray's family, German authorities have scuppered any chance of Ubani standing trial in Britain. German authorities even retrospectively changed the date on the European Arrest Warrant - an act of gross and deliberate perversion of justice - in order to avoid extradition of one of its citizens.

"I have been unable to bring this case up in Parliament due to the coroner's inquest, but I will now seek to hold an adjournment debate as soon as possible in order to obtain a response from the Government as to why Ubani was allowed to get away with causing the death of his patient."

Mr Gray's partner Lynda Bubb told the hearing earlier that the German doctor seemed "tired' and "dithery' when he called at their home.

Ms Bubb said she called SuffDoc, which is part of the out-of-hours health care service Take Care Now (TCN), when Mr Gray was in severe pain.

She said that after the lethal dose was administered, Mr Gray took Dr Ubani's hand and said "thank you'. Mr Gray was pronounced dead some four hours later, the hearing was told.

Dr Ubani was charged in Witten in Germany with death by negligence over Mr Gray's death. He was given a nine-month suspended sentence and ordered to pay a fine of 5,000 euros (£4,370).

The prosecution, which is allowed under German law, means he cannot be charged in the UK. Today Liberal Democrat health spokesman Norman Lamb said: "It is scandalous that Dr Ubani will not face a court in this country. It is also scandalous that he continues to practise in Germany.'

Cambridgeshire police said: "We had completed the complex process of obtaining arrest warrants for Europe and are disappointed that any subsequent prosecution was not allowed to reach its natural conclusion in this country."

The case of Mr Gray prompted the Care Quality Commission to launch an investigation into the care provided by TCN. The commission's interim report, released last October, raised questions about the standard of GP out-of-hours services.

Today's inquest hearing was followed by the publication of a Government-ordered review into out-of-hours health care, which recommended more stringent checks are carried out on overseas doctors.

The NHS in Cambridgeshire stopped using TCN's weekend and evening GP services in Fenland and east Cambridgeshire four months before its contract was due to end. But TCN is still being employed by NHS Great Yarmouth and Waveney until its contract ends in October.

The inquest examined the death of another of Dr Ubani's patients. Iris Edwards, 86, who lived in a care home in Ely, died of a heart attack the day after she was treated by the 67-year-old doctor. The coroner ruled she died of natural causes.

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