Victim of disgraced surgeon interrupts independence convention to demand inquiry

The former patient of a disgraced surgeon brought the SNP’s independence convention to a standstill to demand a public inquiry.

Theresa Mallett, 61, from Glenrothes, said she was left with lifechanging injuries after undergoing botched surgery for sciatica from ex-NHS Tayside doctor Professor Sam Eljamel.

The neurosurgeon is thought to have harmed hundreds of patients while working at Ninewells Hospital in Dundee.

Ms Mallett, who was initially booed for her interruption by SNP delegates, was consoled by First Minister Humza Yousaf (pictured) as she accused the health board of negligence.

The lifelong SNP member has now quit the party and told Mr Yousaf only a full public inquiry will restore her faith in the party.

The Fife grandmother told the PA news agency after leaving the convention at Dundee’s Caird Hall: “The day after the operation Eljamel told me it was a complete success.

“Two years later the pain clinic told me that I was never getting better – it’s permanent.

“I thought I was going back to work, I thought I was going to get on with my life. And of course, it got worse.”

Ms Mallett said she underwent the surgery to remove a nerve which was causing her sciatic pain, on December 18 2012, but has been given no insight since into what went wrong.

She said: “We want people from NHS Tayside, Ninewells, the managers and anybody that colluded to allow him to continue harming patients.

“I’m a member of (the SNP) and I thought I need to go speak to him (the First Minister), I need to go look him in the eye.

“I don’t want anybody to ever go through what I went through or the other 112 went through. That can never be allowed to happen.

“Eljamel is gone, we will never get him back – but we still need answers. Notes have been lost, x-rays have been lost. We have never had answers.”

And she said her time in the SNP is “over for the time being”, adding: “If I get a public inquiry I’ll reconsider. I can’t look people in the face, my own First Minister of the party that I love.”

Speaking to journalists after his speech, Mr Yousaf said he was happy to meet Ms Mallett and other victims.

He said: “There’s no doubt that she’s suffered a lot of trauma, all the victims of Eljamel have, and I’m happy to meet with her in particular.

“She had a particular concern that we haven’t agreed to a public inquiry – I can understand the calls for a public inquiry I have to say.

“But the reason why we’ve not progressed the public inquiry is because we think there may be ways of getting answers to the questions that people want through means that’s quicker than a public inquiry.

“We know how long a public inquiry often takes but look, everybody who has suffered at the hands of Eljamel has every right to be angry at the situation they find themselves in.”

Following the interruption, Mr Yousaf appealed to SNP members to not “shout down” those who are trying to be heard.

Professor Eljamel, a former head of neurosurgery at NHS Tayside, removed himself from the General Medical Council (GMC) in 2013, but the remit does not extend beyond the UK and he is currently working as a surgeon in Libya.

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