Norfolk doctor who transported infected blood samples from Nigeria to Great Yarmouth will not face disciplinary action
18:44 27 June 2014
A consultant who put passengers at risk by taking HIV-infected blood samples on a flight from Nigeria will face no disciplinary action from health watchdogs.
Tubonye Harry breached international regulations when he flew into Heathrow, via Paris, with the infectious material in December 2010.
The former genito-urinary specialist at the James Paget Hospital in Gorleston told a fitness to practise hearing he had packed the samples in a Royal Mail ‘safe box’, which was in his checked-in medical bag and stored in the airplane’s hold.
He admitted this breached clear guidelines and carried the same risks to passengers as carrying the blood in the aircraft’s cabin.
He also admitted breaching regulations when he unpacked four blood samples at his Lowestoft home and transported them to the Bure Clinic, in Great Yarmouth, by car.
The doctor was sacked for gross misconduct by the James Paget Hospital in 2012 after concerns were raised over samples from Nigerian patients being processed on the NHS.
An employment tribunal later found he was unfairly dismissed, and he has now been told he is ‘fit to practise’ by a Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service panel, in Manchester.
Chairman Peter Scofield said it is the duty of any doctor involved in the transportation of such samples to have sufficient knowledge of the relevant regulations, and adhere to them.
However, he added Dr Harry was a man of good standing, previously had an unblemished professional record, and expressed remorse.
The medic has also been criticised for transporting samples in his own car, as an accident could have exposed emergency staff to the disease.
Dr Harry accepted he had breached the relevant regulations when he carried the samples in a ‘spectacles-type case’ inside a Jiffy bag.
He added: “On reflection now, it was the wrong thing to do. I should not have carried it in my private car.”
The doctor was cleared of dishonesty after he asked a colleague to amend the front cover of two patients’ notes to classify them as private rather than NHS patients.