Cleared doc: My nightmare

Dr Rajat Banerjee at home in St Helens
Dr Rajat Banerjee at home in St Helens

A ST Helens doctor cleared of several damaging allegations has told of his monumental battle to clear his name and warned “it could have happened to anyone”.

Dr Rajat Banerjee, who was cleared of negligence and dishonesty by a General Medical Council (GMC) fitness to practice panel, claimed the case against him stemmed from a handful of influential staff at Whiston Hospital taking a personal dislike to him. The married father-of-two, a successful singer and musician in his spare time, told how things had started to go downhill following the release of his CD Notun Probhat - which was even featured in the hospital’s in-house magazine.

He said: “To this day I have no idea why these people were against me. But the mood all changed after the release of my CD.

“After making one small clinical mistake, which any anaesthetist in the world could have made, I was treated like a junior doctor – not one with 20 years’ experience.

“I was put under so much pressure that I could easily have harmed a patient. My confidence was on the floor. Thankfully, my training was so solid that I didn’t succumb.”

Dr Banerjee, 47, who also plays cricket for Rainhill CC, told how his every move was then watched like a hawk by colleagues and he became so down that he started taking anti-depressants.

“On one occasion I was accused of leaving a patient when I had simply walked a couple of yards away to get a glass of water,” he recalled.

“These people shattered me and, at one point, I thought my family would break. But, thanks to all the support I’ve received, we were able to get through it together.

“The GMC hearing was torture. It was very difficult to hear people accuse me of things I knew were false. I certainly didn’t feel like I was innocent until proven guilty.”

Among the most damaging allegations levelled at Dr Banerjee, both from his time at Whiston and subsequently at Bolton, was that he falsely claimed expenses for study leave sessions and that he fell asleep on the job.

But, while in the witness box for more than seven hours, Dr Banerjee, who forked out £50,000 on defence solicitor fees, was able to convince the fitness to practice panel that he made no monetary gain from the missed study leave and had not fallen asleep while at work.

His actions, which, in some cases, dated back a decade, were deemed “misleading” rather than “dishonest”.

He was found guilty of failing to properly anaesthetise a patient while working at Whiston in December 2005 and failing to maintain adequate supervision of two patients at Bolton.

However the GMC panel did not even issue a warning as they regarded any issues to have now been remedied.

Dr Banerjee, of Walsham Gardens, Nutgrove, who now hopes to secure a permanent contract at Fairfield Hospital in Manchester, is now backing a support group for doctors who are hauled before the GMC.

He added: “This wasn’t the GMC’s fault - they were left with no option but to take the case on. But if I can do anything to support other doctors who find themselves in the same situation as I was then I will do.

“I just feel numb now my case is all over. I feel like I’ve survived a battle in Afghanistan. It still doesn’t seem real - I keep having to remind myself that I’m free. I’ve been floored and I’m still just getting back up again.”