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Offline real madness

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Banned doctor worked in TnT
« on: June 22, 2005, 08:24:35 AM »
Trinidad Express


Unknown to medical authorities in Trinidad a Dutch pathologist who was under investigation in England for illegally removing the organs of 850 dead children, was allowed to work at the Port of Spain General Hospital.

Professor Dick van Velzen worked as a paediatric pathologist, looking after the bodies of dead children, at the hospital for one year. He was on an 18-month contract for the North West Regional Authority, which is responsible for running the hospital.

He left in early 2000 before the contract was up, when the Medical Board of Trinidad and Tobago learned that he was under investigation by the House of Commons in England and the General Medical Council (GMC), the governing body for Britain's doctors.

The board had started looking into van Velzen background when he left Trinidad.

After several years of investigations, the GMC revoked van Velzen's licence to practise medicine. after they found him guilty of professional misconduct involving the removal the children's organs without their parents' consent.

Yesterday, questions were being asked about how van Velzen was allowed to work in Trinidad while he was under investigation and whether similar offences were committed when he worked at the hospital.

The Medical Board is the authority responsible for registering and disciplining doctors practising in Trinidad.

It was learned that though the Medical Board Act requires that another doctor must recommend the application from a doctor seeking to work in Trinidad, in the case of van Velzen the board was unable to give the name of the recommender.

Current board president Dr Steve Smith said yesterday that new mechanisms were in place to ensure that people applying for registration to practice medicine have not been debarred in another country and that they do not have any investigation pending against them.

"We have now put new requirements in place to avoid licensing doctors who are under investigation," he said.

Since the van Velzen case government has passed a special law to examine and approve doctors who are urgently needed in the country.

The doctors in these cases are approved by the Chief Medical Officer in the Ministry of Health who heads a three member-board.

They do not have to go through the Medical Board. The act was passed to accommodate the recruitment of doctors from the Cuba, the Philippines and from the United Nations Development Programme.