GMC General Medical Council 11 Feb 2019 17:15 #21
Bobby Qureshi & London Eye Hospital 06 Feb 2019 23:51 #22
Searching for an image to accompany this post, I was surprised when I Googled ‘Bobby Qureshi‘ and my Facebook page came up, and even more surprised when I read the content I’d written almost three years ago - and totally forgotten
Back in Manchester to hear Dr Niall Patton give his evidence tomorrow at the MPTS hearing, I arrived just in time this afternoon to hear the evidence from Patient/Mrs W and her daughter Miss L.
Paying £15,000 for bilateral lenses, she and her daughter were both adamant that Dr Qureshi had assured Mrs W that while there were no guarantees, ALL of his patients had gained at least 30% improvement to their vision after surgery. Denied by the defence, but exactly what I’ve heard most of the other witnesses say.
Miss L said there had been no improvement to her mother’s vision after two operations in October and November 2016, and that the London Eye Hospital had subsequently and voluntarily offered a refund of £3,000. However, this was rescinded when they were informed that the hospital’s medical director was not authorised to make this offer.
Mr Davies seemed to be in the dark much of the time, confused as to whether Bobby was Dr or Mr Qureshi, and repeatedly referring to the London Eye Clinic, and even I was irritated after the fourth or fifth time, wanting to remind him it was the ‘London Eye HOSPITAL’, and I could sense Bobby cringe each time. (Although he might soon want to totally erase the name from people’s memories if he too is erased from the GMC register.)
Some of Mr Davies’ questions seemed pointless, as if he knew he was fighting a losing battle but needed to make an attempt to justify his fee: appearing exasperated when he was unable to budge Miss L on some of her evidence, and frustrated when he couldn’t elicit the answers he wanted from Mrs L, tiredly holding his head up with his hand by the end of the day.
I won’t bother with more about this, because it really is repetitive, but I do want to comment on the fact that, yet again, it was ophthalmic surgeon Mr Saj Khan who operated on Patient W, not Dr Qureshi.
In no way am I defending Bobby Qureshi, but it seems to me that Saj Khan is also culpable. He was fully on board with The London Eye Hospital, performed many of these ops, and profited from them!
It will be interesting to see if Saj Khan will at the very least be offering evidence in his colleague’s defence.
Bobby Qureshi 28 Jan 2019 20:44 #23
The GMC’s medical expert, Dr Niall Patton, was listed to give evidence at Bobby Qureshi’s MPTS hearing today, but due to unforeseen circumstances it was disappointingly necessary to suspend the hearing until Wednesday.
As yet it’s unknown when Dr Patton will now appear before the tribunal, but I will of course let you know as soon as I do
Bobby Qureshi @ MPTS cont'd 27 Jan 2019 21:26 #24
Dr Bobby Qureshi's MPTS hearing continued
Three more witnesses gave evidence on Friday, and Mrs D was the first, via video link.
Her husband (deceased) had surgery in 2014, and when asked why he’d gone to the London Eye Hospital, she said it was her fault, because she'd seen so much advertising, and after googling Bobby Qureshi had no reason to doubt anything.
Patient D was a surgeon himself, and told his wife after the second procedure that he was disappointed to be told that Miss CW would be operating, under Bobby’s supervision.
Mrs D told the tribunal that he didn't say anything at the time because he’d been put into an embarrassing situation, with Miss CW introduced only when he was on the table, but that he was not happy having paid for Dr Qureshi. And a letter from Patient D to Bobby Qureshi after surgery repeated this allegation.
Denied by the defence, they claimed that Miss CW was an observer. Mrs D argued that, as a surgeon himself, with an excellent memory, she did not believe that her husband was mistaken.
Patient D was quoted £15,000 per lens, but Dr Qureshi said he was entitled to a discount because he was 'a medical man’. Yet Patient A was not a ‘medical’ person, given a £2,000 discount on condition she signed up on the day of her consultation (see 24 Jan post). Again, similar sales tactics to OE!
Post surgery, approximately four to eight months maximum according to his wife, Patient D was experiencing misting, but was unable to get an appointment with Dr Qureshi.
Mrs D said, ‘Off record, personally for Dr Qureshi, very disappointed that there was no aftercare, my husband would never have done that.’
She added, if he refuses to see patients post op, ‘How good is your research?”
Patient U and her sister both gave evidence after lunch.
With AMD, Patient U was registered legally blind before her surgery.
Promising her 30% improved vision in her left eye (with no sight at all in that eye she thought she'd be able to see), and 70% improvement to the limited vision in her right eye, Dr Qureshi fitted her with two lenses per eye.
Patient U's sister was a senior nurse with the NHS, and told the tribunal that she'd read up about the lens, that it was connected to NASA (OE make similar claim about laser), and that because BQ was so confident, expressing no doubts, telling them he’d done hundreds of these ops without problems, they believed there was nothing to lose.
Patients U’s sister said, ‘We thought he was the Messiah, that he would perform miracles.’
But Patient U told the tribunal, ‘I still go round in a fog, as I did before surgery.'
On the way back from Manchester last week it occurred to me that if BQ’s miracle treatment could have given sight to so many patients with AMD (Age-related macular degeneration), then surely this ‘revolutionary’ new treatment would have been made available on the NHS?
So I asked the opinion of an expert in this field.
He explained that the problem with the iolAMD and EyeMax Mono lens was that it was very early days, and should not have been used on patients without good trustworthy data.
He added, had he invented the lens, then he would have carried out a free ethics approved trial, and if that proved successful, over a period of 6-24 months, only then would it have been acceptable to ask patients to pay for this treatment, but even then with an inclusion criteria, refined during the trial process.
In layman’s terms, with a trial you would see who benefited most from the procedure, and of course those who don't, and future patients would be selected accordingly. Whereas Dr Qureshi seemingly sold this procedure to any desperate patient with AMD, some spending their life savings to pay for this!
I questioned Dr Qureshi’s extremely high fees, £11-15,000 per lens, compared to approx £2.5-3,000 for a regular lens used in cataract surgery performed at a private clinic.
I was advised that even though the Research and Development costs would need to be recovered, Bobby Qureshi’s fees were way too high. And, remembering that like most others with AMD, Patient U paid £22,000, so if there was no extra charge for her additional two lenses then it’s his time BQ was pricing so high.
And of course with thousands of people desperate to believe they could improve their vision with these lenses, had they been successful, there would never have been a shortage of customers, and BQ would have recovered his R & D costs relatively quickly.
Sadly, it's apparent that Bobby Q’s motivation was £££, leaving so many people not only without vision, but penniless too.
And I wonder if actress June Brown (aka Dot Cotton) paid for her surgery, because, just like Alan Titchmarsh, she provided priceless advertising for Dr Bobby Qureshi and his London Eye Hospital
The witness accounts are repetitive, so I have done my best to pick out salient points, and those I think will be of most interest to my readers. However, press and legal teams are welcome to contact me for more detail.
Meanwhile, some of you might be interested in reading this, 'CQC inspects London Eye Hospital after patients complain’.
Following the letter from health minister Steve Brine (prev post), this is a case in point proving the absurdity of the government’s repeated claim that the CQC are doing anything worth a damn to prevent damage being inflicted on so many thousands of people every year!
Government regulation is the ONLY hope for any control of the industry, who - just like the police - virtually self regulate, with anything from the omnipotent Royal College of Ophthalmologists quoted by the press, NHS choices, etc… without question!
The Royal College, just like the GMC, are funded by their surgeon members, and I am highly critical of both organisations, as I’ve often written.*
But while the College have no regulatory powers, the GMC does, yet closed so many complaints against ophthalmic surgeons, even when GMC appointed independent experts report that they performed below the 'reasonable standard expected from a consultant ophthalmologist’.
In my opinion therefore, the only reason Dr Qureshi is at a Fitness to practise hearing is because of the pressure exerted by the Macular Society.
I'm back in Manchester tomorrow, when the GMC’s medical expert will be giving evidence, and I will of course update you…
Meanwhile, to everyone reading - ophthalmic surgeons included - please keep in mind that I have to pay for travel and accommodation to attend the hearing, so any contributions to my costs are welcomed and much appreciated - DONATE link at top of page ????
* If you’ve only recently started following this page, scroll through the history and read how David Moulsdale (Optical Express founder/CEO) colluded with members of the RCOphth, including the chair, Moorfields surgeon Bruce Allan, to remove me from my nominated position as Lay Adviser to the Refractive Surgery Standards Working Group in 2015.
MPTS hearing for Bobby Qureshi 24 Jan 2019 22:53 #25
A late start this morning, because the first witness didn’t show up, and to everyone’s amusement the proceedings began with Michael Hayton saying that he was struggling with eye problems
Explaining only that he has one good eye and one bad eye he didn’t elaborate, but I noticed his left eye became progressively red as the day progressed, and he often dabbed at it with his handkerchief.
Tim Bradbury responded with a comment - not clear, but something like - that he had the right help sitting beside him, and even Bobby laughed along with the rest of us.
Over the last two days I’ve listened to evidence provided by three of Bobby Qureshi’s patients, and two of their relatives, and each one of them has said that they went to the London Eye Hospital because of the editorial cover, including the Alan Titchmarsh Show in 2014!
Like so many other TV presenters, Alan Titchmarsh has a lot to answer for, his unbridled praise and promotion of Bobby Qureshi’s ‘miracle’ procedure supporting the argument that celebrity endorsements should be banned.
Not forgetting of course that Alan Titchmarsh didn’t have this surgery himself, while Eastenders actress June Brown did, adding more gloss to Qureshi’s sales promotion when the story was given high profile coverage in the Express.
The London Eye Hospital website still advertises this, although a recorded message simply says, ‘I am unavailable.’
The first witness today was Mrs H, the daughter of a woman in her nineties who had surgery on her left eye in October 2014, with the lens repositioned in March 2015.
Mrs H explained that Bobby Qureshi had told her mother that she would gain 60% improvement to her vision, which she said was not a lot as she had poor vision to begin with, but that her mother’s expectations were modest, not rising to Michael Hayton’s many ‘suggestions’ that Dr Qureshi had been very clear that the procedure might not work. He also argued that it was not normal for a doctor to put a percentage on surgery results - I beg to differ!
Mrs H rejected all his attempts to discredit her evidence, saying that her mother would not have gone ahead, ‘unless there was a possibility of maintaining a slight improvement’, and that Dr Q had described her mother as ‘a good candidate for the procedure.’
As other witnesses have also told the tribunal, Dr Qureshi apparently spent only ten minutes with Mrs H’s mother at her initial consultation. And Mr Hayton has ‘suggested’ to each of them that it was more likely twenty to thirty minutes. Again Mrs H stood her ground, replying that 20 minutes would be ‘pushing it’!
Mrs H explained her mother had only expected a small improvement, to allow her some independence; only able to use the microwave she wanted to be able to read food labels, to see the kerb so she could go to the nearby coffee shop, to be able to look at people’s faces so she could react properly to them.
She said, ‘60% sounds wonderful, but if there’s nothing there [to begin with]...’’
Mrs H was dismissed, and the tribunal broke for lunch, reconvening at 1.15pm.
Getting into a lift with Michael Hayton during this break, I asked him if he could tell me would Bobby be attending the hearing every day. He replied that he couldn’t provide that information.
The first afternoon witness was Patient A, questioned via video link, who’d undergone three procedures with Dr Q in 2014. She’d had glaucoma in her left eye for fifteen to sixteen years, and a ‘ wet cataract’ in her right eye.
When asked by Mr Rose if Dr Q had discussed risks with her, she said she didn’t remember him having done so, describing him as ‘very charming’, and she did remember him telling her that the surgery would ‘definitely’ improve vision in her right eye, that it would be ‘100% better’.
She took his word for it, that her surgery would be as successful as it had been for others, wanting to continue with her charity work four days a week for the Heart Foundation.
Many of you reading this who’ve undergone unnecessary refractive surgery, laser or lens, will have heard the following!
Dr Q told Patient A that he would also put a lens in her left eye for ‘balance’, even though it wouldn’t make much difference.
Someone thought to be named ‘Roger’ then explained the cost - £22,000! But added that if she signed up that day there’d be a £2,000 discount.
At which point I looked at Bobby, sadly shaking my head in disgust - sales tactics just like Optical Express!
And just like Mr L told the tribunal yesterday, Patient A was also only able to pay £1,000 on her credit card, so that was accepted as a deposit on the understanding that she’d be able to get the rest of the money together without problem.
Following surgery on both eyes in August 2014, her left eye was worse than it was before. Explaining that the lens had slipped ‘out of line’, Dr Q told Patient A that he would insert a new lens he was getting in six weeks time.
Meanwhile, her right eye was also worse than when she was being treated by the NHS, and she described her vision as ‘looking through net curtains’.
The bottom line [sic] is that all witnesses I’ve heard so far have provided almost word for word accounts of Dr Q’s sales tactics, the information they say they were and were not given, all consistent with their evidence.
And going by some of Mr Hayton’s questions to witnesses today, it seems that the defence are leading towards claiming that some patients were advised that these ops were experimental, and therefore Dr Bobby Qureshi has done nothing wrong. But that’s just my impression and I could be totally mistaken.
The last witness, again via video link, was Patient A’s son, referred to as Mr A. Much of the same evidence, but when asked if he thought the £2,000 discount had affected his mother’s decision, he replied, ‘I believe it pushed to persuade her to go ahead.’
Asked if he knew of any downsides of the op having been discussed, he said not really, they were just aware that it might not work, but not that his mother’s vision could get worse as a result. And that they’d read only positive testimonials on the London Eye Hospital website.
Welcome to OERML, where you won’t read ANY positive reviews about these unregulated and risky procedures, only the facts and truths about the very real downsides and risks of unnecessary refractive surgery, no matter whether performed by Bobby Qureshi or someone else!
I should also mention that when the tribunal reconvened in the afternoon, Tim Bradbury apologised for that fact that I (the only person in the gallery) was unable to see the video screen, entirely due to the layout of the room, and that they were going to try and eat with that in future.
I was later told that he had actually tested the position of a chair during the lunch break to see if it would be possible for me to sit there, but decided not as I would have been able to see Mr Rose’s laptop.
If only he knew, with my damaged vision that would be impossible!
With no more witnesses today, the hearing was adjourned around mid afternoon, and before leaving I was chatting with one of the tribunal clerks when Bobby Qureshi appeared, heading towards the door behind me. I asked if he wanted to give me a comment (for publication), but he said ‘not right now’, or at least I think that’s what he said between gritted teeth.
Three witnesses tomorrow, all via video link.
MPTS hearing for Bobby Qureshi 24 Jan 2019 00:35 #26
Attending the MPTS hearing this afternoon - didn’t think I’d make it due to snowfall in London and Manchester yesterday! - I was surprised to see Dr Muhammad (Bobby) Ali Qureshi on the way into the hearing, as I’d been advised that he wasn’t expected to attend until next week
Perhaps his recently appointed counsel (Michael Hayton QC) advised that he should give up his year’s tax relief and attend the hearing, instead of insulting so many of his patients conned out of their life savings! Time will tell...
I’m used to being treated like the spectre at the feast, but if looks could kill, the minute Bobby and his new solicitor (Elizabeth-Ann Larsen) saw me I would have been dead!
I try hard not to smile in serious situations such as this, but so difficult not to when I know how uncomfortable my presence makes corrupt doctors (and their representatives).
Dr Bobby was less than immaculately turned out, in fact it looked like he’d slept in his shirt and hadn't had time to shave, unless of course it was designer stubble!
I am, at the moment, the only person who will regularly report on Dr Qureshi’s hearing, because journalists generally only get one shot at a story, and most are waiting to cover the tribunal decision, whereas I can post to my heart’s content!
And I’ll do my best...
This afternoon, witness ‘Patient L/Mrs L’, and her husband, were questioned via video link, by Christopher Rose, junior counsel for the GMC, and cross examined by Dr Qureshi’s counsel, Michael Hayton QC.
I was unable to see the video screen, only visible to the panel, defendant, and legal teams, and so throughout the afternoons’s proceedings I sat just behind and to the left of the screen - making it impossible for Bobby to avoid looking at me. And yes Bobby, I did notice you sending texts while Mr L was giving evidence!
Mr Saj Khan was Mrs L’s operating surgeon, and when asked why her complaint to the GMC was made against Dr Qureshi, she said because he was the one who’d sold the procedure to her. And Mrs L said that she was surprised on the day of surgery to find that Dr Saj Khan was operating on her, as she’d understood that Bobby Qureshi would so so.
Note that there is no mention of the London Eye Hospital on Saj Khan’s advertising bio, like so many other surgeons who conveniently forget that they ever worked for companies attracting negative publicity!
It also appears that Mr Saj Khan has joined Eye-Law Chambers, an extortionately overpriced medicolegal agency, owned by Professor Charles Claoué, who set this up after I had recommended him to a number of solicitors.
Back to Mrs L...
When dry AMD turned to wet, the NHS told her that they could do no more for her - then a friend saw a press article about Dr Qureshi, publicised as a miracle worker!
According to Mrs L, throughout his sales pitch Bobby was ‘so definite and so positive’ that surgery would improve her vision in her left eye, even though she had scarring, and had been told by the NHS that no more could be done.
Cross examined by the somewhat patronising Michael Hayton, Mrs L was consistent with her responses, sticking to her guns when she repeated that, to the best of her recollection, Dr Bobby Qureshi had not discussed risks with her pre-op, and had been ’totally positive’ that he would improve her vision, giving her no cause to doubt this, or to believe otherwise.
My notes are lengthy, but it’s late, and I’m tired...
So I’ll end this post by saying that, for all his posturing, Dr Qureshi is no different to Optical Express et al, as both Mrs and Mrs L independently related similar accounts of a man waiting outside Dr Qureshi’s room after their first consultation, asking for immediate payment.
When Mr L was only able to give £1,000 deposit on his credit card, he was told that he had to pay the £6,500 balance the following week.
And consent was allegedly taken only minutes before surgery.
To be cont’d...
Bobby's Application to adjourn 15 Jan 2019 18:58 #27
ANNEX A – 15/01/2019
Application to adjourn
1. At the outset of the hearing, Mr Simon Cridland, counsel, on behalf of Dr Qureshi made an application to adjourn the hearing pursuant to Rule 29(2) of the General Medical Council (Fitness to Practise Rules) 2004 as amended (‘the Rules’).
2. Dr Qureshi was present at the hearing but for the reasons outlined by Mr Cridland it was submitted that absent an adjournment Dr Qureshi would be unable to attend and or be legally represented during the substantive hearing.
Submissions on behalf of Dr Qureshi
3. In summary, Mr Cridland referred the Tribunal to the relevant legal principles as set out in GMC v Adeogba  EWCA Civ 162. He submitted that the MDU are the medical defence organisation representing Dr Qureshi for the purpose of the application alone. He submitted that they were notified by RHJ Devonshire Solicitors, Dr Qureshi’s previous instructing solicitors, last Wednesday (8 January 2019), asking the MDU to provide assistance. Mr Cridland submitted that his present instructing solicitors, CMS Cameron McKenna, were accordingly instructed on Thursday of last week (11 January 2019) and that he himself was instructed late on Friday to make this application to adjourn. Mr Cridland emphasised that his instructions were limited to the making of the application to adjourn. Mr Cridland told the Tribunal that his instructing solicitors have enquired of a number of chambers as to the availability of counsel to represent the defendant in a substantive hearing starting today of circa 45 days in length and no such available counsel have been identified. Additionally, Mr Cridland submitted that the MDU was not in a position to provide confirmation whether it could or would provide legal assistance for the purpose of these proceedings beyond the application to adjourn.
4. Mr Cridland submitted that since 2015 Dr Qureshi has been conducting research abroad in both Dubai and Spain. He told the Tribunal that Dr Qureshi is a British national resident abroad for tax purposes and that he can only remain in this country for a further 10 days before the expiration of the current tax year (April 2018/2019). Mr Cridland clarified that his status does not prevent Dr Qureshi from being physically present within the United Kingdom for a period greater than 10 days, rather if he does remain for a longer period, there may be (unspecified) adverse tax consequences to him. Mr Cridland stated that after 9 April 2019, Dr Qureshi will have 90 days available when he could attend.
5. Mr Cridland fully accepted on behalf of Dr Qureshi that there has been a lack of engagement by Dr Qureshi during both the investigation stage and throughout the pre-hearing case management process. He offered Dr Qureshi’s apologies in this regard and accepted that the absence of engagement shown by Dr Qureshi was not what this Tribunal, nor the public would be entitled to expect of a registrant. But he submitted that Dr Qureshi’s failure in this regard ought to be considered in its proper context. Mr Cridland submitted that these proceedings were part and parcel of a framework of complaints and litigation which Dr Qureshi has been, and is still facing. In addition Mr Cridland submitted that Dr Qureshi had his own professional commitments namely the research being conducted abroad. Mr Cridland acknowledged that these factors were in no way an excuse for the non-engagement but rather provided some explanation and context. Further, Mr Cridland suggested that Dr Qureshi had not been well served by his former solicitors, RHJ Devonshire Solicitors, to the extent that when they were instructed at the end of last year they should then, he submitted, have advised Dr Qureshi to contact the MDU.
6. Mr Cridland submitted that this case was one of considerable complexity hence the lengthy time estimate. The Notice of Allegation, he submitted includes in excess of 100 charges comprising clinical concerns, advice to / and obtaining consent from patients, together with numerous allegations of dishonesty. There are approximately 40 witnesses to be called by the GMC including expert evidence. Mr Cridland submitted that the case would require substantial preparation and that there has been no opportunity for that ‘work up’ to be undertaken since 8 January 2019 when the MDU were instructed.
7. Mr Cridland acknowledged that there would be considerable disruption and cost implications consequent upon an adjournment and he accepted that an adjournment could result in a cost order against Dr Qureshi. Nevertheless, Mr Cridland submitted that in the event that an adjournment was not granted for the reasons he had given, Dr Qureshi would neither be represented or present during the proceedings. He submitted that this would represent a ‘manifest injustice’ to Dr Qureshi. He submitted that the interests of justice required that the Tribunal should be in a position to consider the evidence on both sides.
Submissions on behalf of the GMC
8. In summary, Mr Jackson QC on behalf of the GMC, submitted that when considering the history of this case, it is apparent that Dr Qureshi was aware of the investigation and subsequent proceedings as far back as May 2017. The events to which the allegations relate go back as far as January 2013 and the last patient in the series of allegations is July 2017. Mr Jackson made further reference to the case of GMC v Adeogba and in particular the observations made by Sir Brian Levinson P, as he then was, reminding the Tribunal of the distinction between the absence of a defendant in criminal proceedings on the one hand and the decision to proceed in the absence of a doctor within disciplinary proceedings on the other hand. The latter decision must be guided by the context provided by the overarching objective of fitness to practise proceedings namely, the protection, promotion and maintenance of the health and safety of the public which is achieved by the fair, economical, expeditious and efficient disposal of allegations made against medical practitioners and is of very real importance. It was submitted that it would run entirely counter to the overarching objective if a practitioner were able to effectively frustrate the process and challenge a refusal to adjourn where that practitioner had deliberately failed to engage in the proceedings.
9. Mr Jackson submitted that Dr Qureshi’s engagement had been at best intermittent and that his non-engagement went further than merely ‘burying his head in the sand’.
10. Mr Jackson referred the Tribunal to the documents of service, chronology of events and pre-hearing case management documentation which set out the relevant history and demonstrated the full extent of Dr Qureshi’s failure to meaningfully engage in the case management process. He submitted that a previous application made on Dr Qureshi’s behalf by RHJ Devonshire Solicitors to adjourn the case for essentially the same reasons had been refused in December 2018. Mr Jackson further submitted that Dr Qureshi had been served with Notice of the Allegations and the evidence upon which the GMC relied in the early part of 2018.
11. Mr Jackson submitted that it would be a manifest injustice if Dr Qureshi’s failures to engage with his regulator by reason of pursuing his professional or other interests were allowed to frustrate these proceedings. He submitted that Dr Qureshi had been on notice since May 2017 of the fact of the proceedings and that the hearing, which he is now seeking to adjourn, was fixed, as Dr Qureshi knew, on the 27 March 2018. Mr Jackson submitted that apart from the existence of other civil proceedings or other professional commitments, Dr Qureshi should have given necessary priority to the present proceedings brought by his regulator.
12. Mr Jackson referred the Tribunal to Good Medical Practice 2013 (‘GMP’) stating that Dr Qureshi has a duty to co-operate with his regulator with formal inquiries and complaints procedures.
13. Mr Jackson submitted that Dr Qureshi has attended stating he only has ten days available because he is a non- domiciled UK resident and that if he stays longer he would have to pay UK tax earnings from the London Eye Hospital of which he is the sole shareholder. He submitted that ‘it is ironic’ that this tax would be paid on fees he has taken from patients who want to come and give evidence and see their complaints advanced through this hearing. He submitted that Dr Qureshi’s duty is to be here and be ready for these proceedings.
14. Mr Jackson submitted that, consistent with the overarching objective, there is a duty to the public and the protection of the wider public interest for the hearing to proceed. He submitted that these factors outweigh the submissions advanced on behalf of Dr Qureshi, and in any event, to the extent that Dr Qureshi may be prejudiced by not being represented and / or present during the proceedings, that was a situation entirely of Dr Qureshi’s own making. Therefore he submitted that the application should be refused.
The Tribunal’s decision
15. In considering whether or not to grant the application to adjourn the hearing, the Tribunal considered all the evidence before it including the submissions on behalf of Dr Qureshi by Mr Cridland, and those by Mr Jackson on behalf of the GMC.
16. In approaching the application the Tribunal accepted, that absent an adjournment, it was unlikely that Dr Qureshi would be legally represented, acknowledging that, given that representation had been sought so late, it was improbable that without a lengthy adjournment suitable counsel could be instructed and given sufficient time to adequately prepare. However, the Tribunal did not accept that Dr Qureshi would be unable to be physically present during the proceedings. It might be that for the reasons submitted on his behalf that there may be unspecified adverse consequences to his personal tax position and whether or not he chose to attend the proceedings would be entirely a matter for Dr Qureshi.
17. The Tribunal had particular regard to the legal principles set out in GMC v Adeogba  EWCA Civ 162. In particular the distinction between criminal and professional disciplinary proceedings, with regard to the latter it noted the main objective of the proceedings is in protecting, promoting and maintaining the health and safety of the public. Further, professional people have an obligation and a responsibility to engage with their regulator and should not be permitted to frustrate the objectives of professional regulation through their own deliberate inaction or neglect.
18. The Tribunal gave careful consideration to the undisputed chronology of events provided by the GMC. It is unnecessary for the Tribunal to detail the content of that chronology except to observe that it is plain that Dr Qureshi has had notice of these proceedings since the spring of 2017. The procedural requirements
of the fitness to practise rules have been complied with by the GMC in terms of serving the Notice of Allegations and evidence in support. Further, since November 2017 to date, the case has been actively case managed and Dr Qureshi’s engagement with case management has been sporadic and wholly inadequate. There is nothing within the chronology to suggest any serious or meaningful engagement by or on behalf of Dr Qureshi with a view to progressing the proceedings. This has been despite encouragement by the case manager for Dr Qureshi to take appropriate action in his own interest.
19. The Tribunal had further regard to email correspondence between Dr Qureshi and the Medical Defence Union (MDU) provided by Mr Cridland which showed that on 14 June 2018 Dr Qureshi advised the MDU of the proceedings and seeking representation. The MDU replied the same day requesting that Dr Qureshi provide further information with regard to the proceedings and to answer a number of specific queries that they had asked of Dr Qureshi on 19 March 2018. It is evident from this email that this information was required by the MDU in order to determine whether they would / could provide legal assistance.
20. Dr Qureshi failed to provide any response to the MDU to this enquiry. On 8 January 2019 (last Tuesday) the MDU emailed Dr Qureshi informing him that his former solicitors, RHJ Devonshire Solicitors, had contacted them and informed them of the hearing scheduled for today’s date. The email requested Dr Qureshi to contact the MDU as a matter of urgency to clarify the nature of assistance that he was seeking from the MDU. The Tribunal was not provided with Dr Qureshi’s response, if any, to this email.
21. The Tribunal has not received any satisfactory explanation as to why Dr Qureshi did not seek legal representation for this hearing earlier, and has not apparently to date, provided the MDU with the information they requested on 19 March 2018 and again on 14 June 2018. Further, the Tribunal considered that there was nothing in the correspondence to indicate that in the event that the proceedings were adjourned that the MDU would provide legal representation for the substantive hearing.
22. In these circumstances the Tribunal concluded that Dr Qureshi, despite being aware of the investigation / proceedings since 2017, has through his own neglect and inaction brought the situation he now finds himself, a conclusion he appears to acknowledge is correct.
23. The Tribunal had regard to the overarching objective and the disruption and inconvenience that an adjournment would cause to the proceedings and the approximately 40 witnesses to be called. The Tribunal determined to refuse the application due to the public interest in these allegations being heard in an expeditious and efficient manner.
24. In reaching this determination the Tribunal exercised the utmost care and caution in considering what, if any, prejudice Dr Qureshi might suffer by reason of him not being legally represented. The Tribunal determined that whereas there might be some prejudice to him, the allegations relate to his speciality and concern his own practice and he has, for a considerable time now, had all the relevant evidence on which the GMC rely in order to prepare and formulate his response.
25. Finally, it has previously been submitted on behalf of Dr Qureshi that the GMC witnesses have already submitted their written evidence and that there is therefore ‘no danger of their losing their memory’. The Tribunal considered that with the passage of time memories will inevitably fade and the ability of the Tribunal and /or Dr Qureshi to effectively test the witnesses evidence will diminish over time. This would be detrimental to the fact finding process and to Dr Qureshi himself. It is of note that there are circa 40 GMC witnesses many of whom are elderly former patients of Dr Qureshi. Some of the witnesses the Tribunal has been informed have sadly passed away during the currency of these proceedings. These factor makes it all the more important that the proceedings continue without further delay.
26. Accordingly, balancing the possibility of any prejudice to the doctor that might result by reason of a lack of legal representation against the need to deal with this case in a timely and expeditious fashion, the Tribunal concluded that the balance was firmly in favour of proceeding.
27. The Tribunal therefore determined to refuse the application to adjourn this hearing subject to Rule 29(2) of the Rules.
MPTS 14 January 2019 15 Jan 2019 14:16 #28
In Manchester yesterday for the MPTS Fitness to Practise hearing for Dr Muhammad Ali Qureshi, aka Dr ‘Bobby' Qureshi
Those of you who read my daily posts throughout Stephanie Holloway’s trial in 2014 will remember Simon Cridland, who defended both OE and Dr Joanna McGraw, and I was surprised to see L’il Crid representing Dr Bobby Qureshi (for one day only), audaciously submitting an application to adjourn the hearing.
Greeted with a friendly handshake and a warm smile, I refrained from saying that I hoped he’d be as successful with the application as with his defence of OE and Dr McGraw. And later in the day he did his best not to smile when I whispered in his ear that he always represents the bad guys!
Having begun at 9.35am, chaired by Tim Bradbury, the Tribunal handed down their decision at 2.15pm.
L’il Crid then asked for a written determination before proceeding with the hearing, so the Tribunal went back in camera (legal term for private) while the rest of us went home.
Expected late yesterday afternoon, the written decision was only handed down just over an hour ago, which I will publish later this afternoon.
Dr Bobby Qureshi claimed that he was out of the UK from 2015, carrying out research in Dubai, and at Murcia University in Spain, yet one of his patients who complained to the GMC was operated on in 2017.
I took detailed and lengthy notes throughout the day, but I think what you’ll find most interesting (and unpalatable) was Bobby’s shocking rationale for requesting an adjournment.
Having known about the FTP hearing for almost a year, L’il Crid argued that his client needed an adjournment because he didn’t yet have legal representation (ridiculously blaming the MDU), and because he’s currently a non-domiciled UK resident - to avoid paying tax on the massive amount of money he’s made from patients who bought his ‘snake oil’ - he’s only able to remain in the country for another ten days or he’ll lose his tax exemption benefit, and therefore he couldn’t possibly attend this hearing scheduled to last nearly three months.
And it got worse…
Cridland continued, ‘Dr Qureshi should be forgiven for not having engaged with the GMC as he should’, because he’d been preoccupied, ‘with considerable pending litigation’, and under pressure dealing with so many claimants.
I was amazed that L’il Crid seriously expected to engender sympathy for his client’s predicament with this argument, and with a number of journalists present, this is surely bound for national news when the hearing reaches its end!
Simon Jackson QC, representing the GMC, argued that Dr Qureshi should not be allowed to ‘frustrate GMC proceedings’, and that his priority should be to cooperate with his regulator. He also pointed out that during the years it's taken to get this before the Tribunal, two of Qureshi’s patients have died, and it was not fair on any of the other witnesses to delay any longer.
And as this photo was taken after the Tribunal decision, I’m sure you can guess what it was!
I will be attending the hearing when I have time, and the GMC press office will keep me updated, so I will in turn update you.
Dr Bobby Qureshi 09 Jan 2019 04:54 #29
The FTP hearing for Dr Bobby Qureshi - founder of the London Eye Hospital - is open to the public, and I do of course plan to be there on Monday (14 January)