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Oncologist who attended surgery on two patients while he had covid is suspended for three months

A consultant oncologist who ignored a hospital instruction and attended patients’ cancer surgery on two days when he knew he was still testing positive for Covid-19 has been suspended from the UK medical register for three months.

Andrew Gaya admitted knowingly breaking the rules but told the medical practitioners tribunal he had feared that the patients’ treatments would be postponed if he could not attend the private London Gamma Knife Centre, part of HCA Healthcare UK. The two incidents occurred in the early weeks of the pandemic, at a time of high covid death rates.

“I did not take the decision to attend the centre on 3 April 2020 lightly and was aware it was not in accordance with the instructions I had been given,” Gaya told the tribunal. “At the time I thought that I wasn’t going to do any harm and that I was acting in the best interests of the patient as the case was urgent.

“I know I should have telephoned [the relevant manager] and asked if she would allow me to undertake the treatment, but I was afraid her answer would be ‘no’ and that the patient’s treatment would be cancelled,” he told the tribunal in a witness statement.

Both patients have since died, but after the tribunal concluded Gaya told the Daily Telegraph, “One lived for 6 months with good quality of life.”

Gaya, who was present as part of a multidisciplinary team, wore protective gear and observed social distancing. There is no evidence that he had infected anyone.

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Source: BMJ, 1 November 2022


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