Surgeon ordered to be struck off over baby’s death ‘largely fails’ in appeal

Brian Farmer, PA
·2-min read

A surgeon struck off after a Medical Practitioners Tribunal found that his “actions and omissions” contributed to the death of a baby has “largely failed” in appeal.

Emmanuel Towuaghanste, 65, had mounted a High Court challenge after a tribunal made a misconduct finding, concluding that his fitness to practise was impaired, and made an “order for erasure” from a practitioners’ register.

A judge has ruled that the decision-making processes which led to an impairment finding, and the decision on sanction, were unjust because of a serious procedural irregularity and should be reconsidered by tribunal members.

But Mr Justice Mostyn said Mr Towuaghanste’s appeal had “largely failed” and “succeeded only to one small extent”.

Two-day-old Paul Mitchelhill died following abdominal surgery at the Great North Children’s Hospital in Newcastle in October 2013.

Mr Towuaghanste had been working as a locum.

Paul, who had undergone emergency surgery for a stomach defect, had been born prematurely at a hospital in Carlisle then moved to Newcastle.

Three years ago a coroner had ruled, at an inquest, that a series of failings by Mr Towuaghanste had directly contributed to Paul’s death.

A Medical Practitioners Tribunal had considered the case in 2020.

Members had concluded that Paul had a treatable condition and that Mr Towuaghanste’s “actions and omissions” had contributed to his death.

Mr Justice Mostyn, who is based in London, had considered Mr Towuaghanste’s appeal against those findings at a recent High Court hearing and delivered a ruling on Thursday.

“The appeal has largely failed,” said Mr Justice Mostyn in his ruling.

“It has succeeded only to one small extent.”

He said: “I hope that the Medical Practitioners Tribunal will be able to reconvene at the soonest opportunity to reconsider impairment and sanction.”

The judge said he did not know why an inquest had not been staged until March 2018.

He said the delay was “extraordinary”.

“It has not been explained to me why it took four-and-a-half years for this to happen,” he said.

“True, there was a police investigation.

“But even allowing for that, the delay is extraordinary.”