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by Kirsteen Paterson
07 September 2023
Humza Yousaf confirms public inquiry into disgraced surgeon Sam Eljamel

Sam Eljamel is now practicing in Libya

Humza Yousaf confirms public inquiry into disgraced surgeon Sam Eljamel

A public inquiry will be held into botched-op brain surgeon Sam Eljamel, First Minister Humza Yousaf has confirmed.

The former head of neurosurgery at Ninewells Hospital Dundee carried out hundreds of procedures, leaving some with permanent health issues.

Some of those affected took part in a protest outside the Scottish Parliament on Wednesday, calling for a full public inquiry.

Yousaf has now confirmed this will take place. The decision follow's the publication last week of a damning report by NHS Tayside.

Yousaf said this revealed whistleblowers' concerns about Eljamel "were not acted on with the urgency they deserved" and alongside commissioning an inquiry it is important that those directly affected are "supported to find the answers they need" and lessons are learned.

Speaking to journalists after FMQs, a spokesperson for the First Minister said: "We now believe the only way to get all the answers is through a public inquiry."

Labour's Michael Marra told Yousaf the inquiry "has been rung out of the government like blood from a stone" by campaigners.

Almost 150 former patients joined the push for the probe.

The confirmation came ahead of a statement to parliament on the matter by health secretary Michael Matheson this afternoon.

Commenting on the latest review on Eljamel, Matheson said that it "laid bare the failings" of NHS Tayside to respond to the concerns over his practice, adding that it was "clear" from the review that the failings were not acted on or followed up with "the urgency and rigour they deserved". 

In his statement, he said: "Now, years later, many former patients still live with the consequences and still have many unanswered questions.

"That is why today I am announcing our intention to commission a full public inquiry to seek answers to those questions."

Matheson continued: "I have considered the concerns raised with me by several former patients and I have been struck by their bravery and persistence – sometimes accompanied by significant distress and compounded trauma.

"Nevertheless, I was not at first persuaded of their argument that only a public inquiry would find the answers they sought about what happened to them and why.

"Knowing the length of time that could take, and knowing that it would not necessarily consider each individual patient’s circumstances, I was of the view that there were other, potentially faster and more individually responsive ways to seek the answers they are looking for.

"However, as I have already touched on, after considering the findings of the Due Diligence Review, my view has significantly changed."

Responding to Matheson's statement, Conservative MSP Liz Smith said: "For the last ten years in this parliament, I have listened to some of the most harrowing stories that I have ever heard, of intense and permanent medical and psychological pain, of families broken apart, and of heart rending accounts of victims attempts accounts to get to the truth, only to be knocked back at every turn."

Smith ask the health secretary if he would apologise on behalf of sucessive health secretaries for health "that the process has taken so many years, thereby just prolonging the agony for the victims of Eljamel".

Matheson said he "deeply regrets" being in the situation where a public inquiry is required "for such a matter".

Deputy leader of Scottish Labour Jackie Baillie said it was "very clear" that "the health board [NHS Tayside] and Scottish ministers have failed in their duty to the people of Tayside" and they "failed in their duty to those patients operated on by Sam Eljamel".

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