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Dilemma of a black man Part 3: The story of Dr Titus OdedunBlood on the Floor

Having met and spoken to Dr Titus Odedun about his name being removed from the medical register in the UK, and also having written two pieces about his experience with the GMC, I decided I’d dig deeper to find out why he was treated the way he was treated.

I didn’t have to look too far. I found three bodies or organisations who together succeeded in destroying the good name and career of a successful general surgeon who had dedicated his life in the service of the healthcare sector in the United Kingdom.

1. The GMC

According to their website, the General Medical Council (GMC) ‘…help protect patients and improve UK medical education and practice by supporting students, doctors, educators and healthcare providers’.

In relation to what they do according to the above, however, and their interactions with black doctors the practice seems different.

The headlines screamed about the disproportionate referrals and sanctioning of BAME doctors in the NHS by the GMC.

An article on the BBC website sited research which highlighted that ‘BAME doctors more likely to be investigated than white ones’. The article sited the case of David Sellu a doctor who was imprisoned for the death of a patient and later released on appeal as it turned out he was innocent.

Dr Sellu himself has stated that the GMC destroyed his profession and his life and had made no apology for what they had done to him.

The health Service Journal for Healthcare leaders published an article headlined the ‘NHS has ‘institutional problem’ with treatment of BAME doctors’. It added:

The disproportionate number of black, Asian and minority ethnic doctors referred to the General Medical Council is an “institutional problem” and “widespread” in the NHS, the chief executive of the regulator has said’.

A GMC commissioned report: ‘4 Groups of doctors with higher rates of complaints and investigations’ found that one of those groups were:

‘Those who graduated outside the UK tend to receive proportionately more sanctions or warnings than UK graduates. Among UK graduates non-specialist doctors identifying as black and minority ethnic (BME) tend to receive proportionately more sanctions or warnings than those identifying as white’. Essentially have a non-English accent.

In response to the publication of a report ‘Fair to hear’ commissioned by the GMC to investigate the issues of racism identified above, Professor Andrew Goddard, the president of Royal College of Physicians said:

‘This report provides a welcome and necessary step in tackling the inequalities faced by BAME doctors and offering practical support for doctors new to the UK. We must all reflect on the fact BAME doctors are more likely to be referred to the GMC than their white counterparts, and that we must work together to make changes in the NHS. ‘We urge the GMC to work with stakeholders to implement the recommendations without delay.

The GMC are quite aware of the racism that BAME people face in the NHS. And prior to the commission of research into the issue said:

‘The General Medical Council (GMC) said there has been a persistent “overrepresentation” of complaints against ethnic minority doctors in recent years.

Between 2010 and 2016 the regulator received a complaint against 8.8 per cent of all white doctors, compared to 10.2 against those from a BME background.

He also said there was an “underrepresentation” of complaints against white doctors, hinting that these clinicians find it easier to get away with mistakes.

Together the statistics amount to a “double whammy” of unfairness, he said, asking: “What is driving the overrepresentation of BME doctors that have been complained about, and indeed potentially the under representation of other doctors that perhaps could be complained about?’

GMC now have a black and ethnic minorities Forum in their attempt to address these inequalities and injustices.

Now, for me, being aware there is a problem means a person or a body then has the moral responsibility to ensure they are mindful of how they operate in regards to a situation where the problem has been identified and for the people for whom they have responsibility.

And the above articles cited all indicate the GMC is well aware of the difficulties faced by people of BAME origin.

I struggle, therefore, to see how the GMC did so in the case of Dr Titus Odedun. Here is a doctor who trained in an Ivy League UK University and obtained basic medical degree in the oldest Medical College in the British Commonwealth and indeed one of the oldest in the world. He thereafter, in double record time, attained Fellowship of the two most prestigious Royal Colleges of Surgeons in the United Kingdom, (Edinburgh and London) after completing the required training and passed the requisite examinations. He has worked as Consultant General Surgeon overseas and re- entered NHS before being appointed Full Term Consultant by a duly constituted Appointment Committee Board that included representative from the Royal Colleges. He then worked as Consultant for over twenty-five years without complaints from his patients, consultant colleagues or NHS employers. Nor has there been any record that he botched any of his operations.

Yet the GMC could ignore all of that and remove his name from the medical register on the request of a business which feels its income streams threatened by Dr Odedun. Surely there should be or be seen to be some sort of ‘duty of care’ by the GMC towards the people it has registered on its books especially when it is in relation to a doctor whose registration on the register is monitored and renewed by the very same GMC year in and year out for over twenty-five years allowing him to practice in the NHS. How did those so-called ‘fake’ qualifications allow for the treatment and saving of lives for more than twenty-five years?

By allowing the claims of the insurance company, by deregistering Dr Odedun, The GMC not only laid waste to all that he had given the NHS and the UK over the years but left him vulnerable and open to abuse and the destruction of his good name and reputation, something that everyone knows take years to build but only moments to destroy. The very same thing done to Dr Sellu and others including Dr Gladys Ngozika Johnson-Ogbuneke who is still fighting to restore her name.

There appears to be double standards applied here since there are records of fellow consultants who botched operations, or worse still, who had sexual relations with their patients but were NOT taken off the medical register or even suspended for one day but were let off by the same GMC on the basis that they "showed remorse" following these grave offences.

2. The Press

Reading the headlines and the reports about this case, one almost had a sense that there was glee in the way the press reports it, uncaring of the damage they were causing to the good and hard worn reputation of a UK Surgeon. You could close your eyes and see the town crier with a loud speaker, banking a drum for maximum attention, going through the streets shouting these headlines:

Former Southport A&E doctor made up qualifications in bid to win lucrative work as expert court witness’ from the Liverpool Echo.

‘A&E doctor made up qualifications in bid to win lucrative work as expert court witness’ from the Mirror.

Additionally, the coverage is one-sided. Not one member of the press felt it necessary to undertake any form of investigation into the issues at hand or even understand what had happened, have a back story or hear Dr Odedun’s side.

Words such as ‘dishonest expert’, ‘Lying’, ‘made up qualifications’ go flying all over the press, negating years of study and practice within the NHS and the UK.

Before publishing its headline, did the Liverpool Echo take a moment to find out about Dr Odedun’s qualifications?

Did the Mirror know Dr Odedun was already a multi-millionaire and therefore was not after ‘lucrative work’ before it published its headline?

This publication by Bankstone: Professional insurance claims handlers did not even bother to even know how to spell his name and spelt it wrong twice and yet it also came to the feast to destroy his reputation:

‘The Muppets hearing found that Mr Rhododendron’s conduct “amounts to persistent dishonesty and an abuse of his position as an expert”, a position which itself might now be open to question.

To see billionaire surgeon Titus Addendum

The Insurance Times: 'Doctor struck off for lying at insurance claims hearings'

3. The Money-insurance companies

The first insurance company to take Dr Odedun to court was Aviva. They claimed he had faked his qualifications. Of course, these were presented and the case was thrown out. Then twelve months later, another insurance company came after him. They said he had faked his practice, these were again found to be untrue and thrown out.

Then Horwich Farrelly found another medical expert who testified that Dr Odedun was not in the specialist register for his areas of practice. A specialist register, which had not been introduced when he was accredited but for which the GMC renewed his registration for over twenty-five years of treating and saving lives whilst he was in practice.

For Horwich Farrelly here was a doctor costing their clients money. And to be fair, their loyalty is and should rightly be to their clients. So they did their job to go after the person they considered a threat to their clients.

The consequences of destroying the person’s good name- developed and nurtured over many years- is just a by-product of the fight they must fight.

Their headlines gleefully announced:

‘Horwich Farrelly succeeds in getting dishonest medico-legal expert struck off.

Horwich Farrelly, developed growing concerns about the medico-legal practice of Mr Titus Odedun over a number of years. Having challenged his medical reports on numerous occasions the firm submitted a comprehensive dossier of evidence to the General Medical Council (GMC) which has resulted in the former consultant being struck off the Medical Register’.

And the man responsible for getting the GMC, to strike Dr Odedun off the register, Michael Rimmer, received two promotions after this case and proudly lists this as one of his major achievements at the firm. ‘Notable cases Michael has dealt with include leading an investigation into the credentials and qualifications of medico-legal expert, Titus Odedun which led to the GMC striking Mr Odedun off the medical register’.

Michael Rimmer was probably in diapers when Dr Odedun was cleaning offices and working several jobs to see himself through his medical education and career. Yet he could be allowed to turn up and destroy the reputation of such a man—A man who could have been the one who saved his or the lives of any member of his family with those very same qualifications he dragged through the mud. But what did it all matter- he got a raise and a promotion?

In conclusion

It ends this way: an insurance company’s source of income is threatened: Take the person regarded as a threat to the courts. The courts throw out all your presentations and protests as unfounded. Take him to the GMC, where your complaint is upheld and you are successful.

The GMC fails in duty of care to protect a member who has practised for more than twenty-five years successfully and effectively on your register, whose fitness to practise you renew every year under the very specialisations you now find him guilty of using.

The press have a field day with this outcome-at the end of the day sensational half-truths sell papers.

The result? The reputation of an outstanding doctor who has practised without fault is destroyed. He is stopped in his tracks, no longer a threat to the insurance industry. The insurance company wins. Life goes on.

For the insurance company, a pain in the neck removed. For the GMC, another day, another hearing. For the press, sell more ‘news’. For Dr Odedun, his blood on the floor.

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