A surgeon who branded his initials on to the livers of two of his patients while they were unconscious has avoided being struck off after blaming his behaviour on ‘work stress’.
Consultant Simon Bramhall, 55, used an argon beam machine to mark the organs during transplant operations.
His initials were discovered on one of the patients’ livers by chance after the donor organ Bramall had transplanted failed about a week after he carried out the life-saving operation.
He resigned from his job at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham in 2014 and was later convicted of assault.
But despite the General Medical Council advocating he be struck off, a tribunal has decided to suspend him instead, after hearing he had been under pressure at the time of the incidents.
The Medical Practitioners Tribunal, chaired by Christina Moller, considered: ‘His actions were seen by colleagues as out of character at a time of work-related stress.
‘Mr Bramhall has taken responsibility for his actions, pleaded guilty to common assault at the earliest opportunity, demonstrated genuine remorse and sought to apologise.’
His initials were discovered on one of the patients’ livers by chance after the donor organ Bramall (pictured) had transplanted failed about a week after he carried out the life-saving operation
Bramhall was suspended from the register for five months, but avoided being struck off because it wasn’t ‘appropriate’.
The tribunal report stated: ‘Mr Bramhall’s assault convictions in 2013 are not fundamentally incompatible with continued registration, taking account of all the circumstances, guidance and relevant principles.
‘It thus did not consider erasure to be an appropriate or proportionate response.’
The tribunal made this decision despite Hugh Barton, representing the GMC, stating that erasure was the only ‘appropriate sanction’ in this case.
He added: ‘Conduct in Mr Bramhall’s case was so serious that a suspension would not be sufficient to uphold standards and maintain public confidence in the profession.’
Bramhall, of Tarrington, Herefordshire, admitted two counts of assault by beating at Birmingham Crown Court in December 2017, relating to the brandings.
During the court case, HHJ Farrer described Bramhall’s actions as ‘professional arrogance of such magnitude that it strayed into criminal behaviour’.
He added that the physical harm suffered by the patient was ‘no more than transient or trifling’ but added that Mr Bramhall’s actions had caused a high level of harm, due to the ’emotional or psychological impact’ on the patient.
One of his victim’s witness statement said she was ‘unable to switch off from the ordeal I have been through’ and had ‘constant flashbacks’.
He was fined £10,000 in 2018 after he was convicted and was given a 12 month community order which included 120 hours of unpaid work.
Representing Bramhall at the tribunal, Jon Holl-Allen QC said the surgeon had ‘ceased employment and relinquished his license to practise’ prior to the suspension.
Bramhall’s suspension will be reviewed in five months time.