The case of a Barnsley breast cancer surgeon suspended on an annual salary of £122,000 for more than two years after botching dozens of operations highlighted how suspensions can rack up vast costs for public sector employers.
Puvaneswary Markandoo was suspended by Barnsley Hospital NHS Foundation Trust from July 2006 to October 2008 after more than 30 women came forward to complain about problems following breast surgery she performed on them.
She spent nearly twice as long on suspension as she did actively working for the trust, which employed her as a consultant from February 2005 to October 2008.
As well as her salary, the trust had to spend £270,000 employing a locum to carry out operations at Barnsley Hospital in her absence. It has also since paid out close to £1.2m to settle compensation claims lodged by 26 of Ms Markandoo’s patients, who received an average of more than £45,000 each after suffering problems including scarring, infections and stitches that burst open and leaked.
Campaign group Patient Concern said at the time that it was a “disgrace that someone can injure numbers of patients then sit at home for two years on an enormous salary, meanwhile costing the NHS large amounts in compensation”.
The General Medical Council (GMC) found Ms Markandoo to have been deficient in 11 areas of her job including basic and specialist surgery in 2008 and banned her from practising in the private sector.
However, it ruled she was still permitted to work in the NHS under conditions such as supervision and retraining. She was struck off altogether in 2011 after a second GMC investigation.