The High Court President has suspended a doctor from practising medicine in Ireland, pending a disciplinary hearing, after hearing a claim he provided a false “glowing” reference to the court.
Mr Justice David Barniville last July declined to suspend Dr Syed Waqas Ali Bukhari from the medical register, instead accepting undertakings by the finest margin that the surgical registrar would notify any prospective employer of the existence of the disciplinary complaint against him.
In accepting the extensive undertakings from the former Cavan General Hospital doctor, the judge had taken into consideration various positive references submitted to the court.
Dr Bukhari faced two separate five-month jail sentences for driving offences and a drug possession conviction. His sentences of imprisonment in the summer of 2022 were under appeal.
However, the court heard he has moved home to Pakistan where– according to a translation of a local newspaper article– he has resumed medical practise.
On Friday, the Medical Council asked the judge to revisit his decision in light of new information, including Dr Bukhari’s alleged non-engagement with a health committee over its investigation into the claims against him and an allegation that a “glowing” reference provided to the court was fabricated.
Lawyers for the council said a consultant surgeon has sworn an affidavit saying he did not write one of two letters to the court he was alleged to have penned.
While he did write one providing facts about Dr Bukhari’s whereabouts on a certain date, he denied he wrote one dated December 12th, 2021.
Mr Justice Barniville said the December 12th letter spoke in “extraordinarily glowing terms” about Dr Bukhari.
The letter, purportedly from the consultant surgeon, described Mr Bukhari as a “reliable and trustworthy individual” who was an “integral part of the surgical team in Cavan”, said the judge
Mr Bukhari takes “great pride in his work”, and the consultant did not find him to be a risk to patient safety, the letter went on. The purported reference also said the consultant would be happy to mentor Dr Bukhari in the future.
This letter, along with others submitted to the court, aided the judge in concluding in his “finely balanced judgment” that Dr Bukhari did not pose a risk to patient safety.
Dr Bukhari was not present in court, and lawyers representing him told the judge they have not received contact from him since last December and will seek to come off record if he participates in further hearings.
Given the doctor’s absence, Mr Justice Barniville said he could not express a concluded view on the validity of the December 12th letter. However, he could take this “serious” new information into consideration in revisiting his earlier decision not to suspend the doctor.
He made orders suspending Dr Bukhari’s medical registration and prohibiting from practising in Ireland until various steps are taken.
The judge noted the doctor contacted lawyers saying he does not intend to practise medicine in Ireland.
The disciplinary proceedings against Dr Bukhari, which have yet to be heard, were initially given anonymity under the Medical Practitioners Act of 2007. Mr Justice Barniville lifted the anonymity order last December on the application of Mediahuis.