Patients demand 'red tape' is cut to keep doctor at Carlisle hospital
Last updated at 11:40, Friday, 09 October 2009
Patients are rallying round a popular Polish surgeon who they fear is being driven away from his job at Carlisle’s hospital by red tape.
Breast cancer specialist Zbigniew Obuszko would like to settle in Cumbria with his family but he wants first to get a permanent contract, according to his colleagues.
Despite being highly experienced and respected in the field of surgical oncology, the UK medical authorities do not formally recognise his specialist qualifications.
That means he can only work in the UK as a locum and not a permanent consultant.
Mr Obuszko’s patients have written to councillors and local MPs in the hope of keeping him in his job at the Cumberland Infirmary.
Penrith & the Border MP David Maclean said yesterday that commonsense should be allowed to prevail to remove the red tape that now looks likely to prevent the surgeon from relocating to Cumbria.
An impassioned plea has also come from the surgeon’s patients, including Houghton woman Irene Ruddick, who is currently undergoing treatment for breast cancer at the Cumberland Infirmary.
The 59-year-old was diagnosed with breast cancer in October last year and she said she is one of several patients who have written letters of support for Mr Obuszko to Mr Maclean and to Carlisle MP Eric Martlew.
In her letter, Mrs Ruddick wrote: “Having cancer generates a lot of worries and when something associated with my treatment looks different, he knows the details of my treatment.
“He listened to my problems, and treats me with professional courtesy.”
The letter adds: “I am sure that I represent a high volume of women when I say Mr Obuszko will be greatly missed when he leaves Cumbria as he is an asset to the NHS. There are many consultants and doctors who work at The Cumberland Infirmary who do an excellent job but he is exemplary.”
Mr Maclean said: “You can’t blame the trust for this – I think everybody is being genuine from all sides.
“I’m told that he’s an expert in his field of breast surgery but that the rules of the General Medical Council say that you can’t be a specialist unless you are more generally qualified as a consultant surgeon.
“They need to be a bit more flexible in applying their rules about who is allowed to work. Commonsense should be allowed to prevail.”
One hospital insider said that Mr Obuszko’s professional registration should be tailored to suit his area of expertise, allowing him to settle permanently in Cumbria while continuing as a breast surgeon.
The source added: “He’s been here for about three years and wants to bring his family to Cumbria.
“He’s been trying to get registered but keeps getting knocked back.
“But he’s very experienced and shouldn’t have to do that. It’s just bureaucracy.”
A spokeswoman for North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust said that while Mr Obuszko has worked in the trust as a locum consultant, Department of Health rules stipulate he must be on the Specialist Register of the General Medical Council to be appointed as a permanent consultant in the UK.
She said: “Mr Obuszko submitted all of his training records from when he qualified as a doctor to the Royal College of Surgeons for approval.
“Although he is highly specialised and regarded in his field of surgical oncology, we believe the Royal College of Surgeons have stated that he requires a further two years of general surgical training, i.e. appendix and hernia etc.
“It is, therefore, with much regret that the trust is unable to appoint Mr Obuszko on a substantive contract because of these statutory appointment procedures.”
She said the trust was very sorry to be losing him, but understood his very good reasons for returning home to be with his family.
The spokeswoman added: “We would like to reassure patients that we are trying to recruit a new consultant to replace Dr Obuszko and we hope to have a locum in place in the interim.
“We will work with the oncology team to ensure that any disruption during the transitional period is kept to a minimum and that no patient treatment is adversely affected.”
First published at 05:22, Friday, 09 October 2009
Published by http://www.cumberlandnews.co.uk
Have your say
If the Cumberland Infirmary is blessed with a superb surgeon they should make efforts to hold onto him. I would have died according to the hospitals surgeon at the time, as I was only minutes away from death when in my teens. Dr Obuszko is obviously needed here with his brilliant skills.
Please please dont let us loose Dr Obuszko he was a blessing for me when I was going through a really tough time I'll be devastated if he as to leave.
View all 8 comments on this article