Hoping for progress on Eljamel inquiry ‘not good enough’, minister told

Health secretary Neil Gray met patients who endured botched operations at the hands of the disgraced neurosurgeon.

Hoping for progress on the inquiry into a disgraced neurosurgeon is “not good enough”, health secretary Neil Gray was told as he sought to reassure campaigners.

Dozens of Professor Sam Eljamel’s former patients gathered outside the Scottish Parliament on Wednesday to demand a chairperson is appointed to allow the inquiry to progress.

Gray attended the funeral-like protest to tell Prof Eljamel’s victims he hopes progress will be made within “weeks”.

But Karen Ogg, a former nurse who was given a botched spine operation by the former NHS Tayside neurosurgeon, told the minister: “You hope you’re making progress – or you are making progress.

“Hope isn’t damn good enough anymore.”

Karen Ogg, centre, told the health secretary hoping for progress is not enough.PA Media

Her remarks came after Gray told those gathered he hopes a chairperson will be in place “in very short order”.

Speaking to journalists after the protest, Gray said: “I wanted to offer my support to the victims of Sam Eljamel to let them know that we are making progress on the establishment of a public inquiry as soon as possible.

“I am hopeful that we can make a positive announcement in terms of the appointment of a chair in due course and I understand the need for answers in these cases because, as we are hearing so powerfully, people’s lives have been ruined and we’ve lost lives in the interim and people deserve to have answers.”

Prof Eljamel worked at NHS Tayside from 1995 until he was suspended in 2013, and the Patients’ Action Group for Eljamel Public Inquiry estimates 172 people are known to have been harmed by him.

A public inquiry was announced by First Minister Humza Yousaf in September but lead campaigner Jules Rose – who was Prof Eljamel’s final victim – said 166 days was too long to wait for any further timeline.

She said her healthy tear gland was removed by the surgeon instead of her brain tumour.

Protesters carried a coffin to symbolise the victims of Prof Eljamel who will not live to see the completion of the inquiry or its subsequent recommendations.

Ms Rose said: “The Government are dithering and meanwhile time is running out. We are going to be dying by the time they appoint a chair.

“The patients are understandably angry, they’re frustrated and in chronic pain. We want to get this action moving.”

Prof Eljamel is now believed to be operating in Libya, with ministers previously hinting the disgraced surgeon could eventually be extradited back to Scotland.

Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross said it was a “disgrace” that victims had to gather outside Holyrood for the fifth time.

He said: “Five months on, another new Health Secretary and there is still no date for the public inquiry to begin.

“People need answers, they have been so badly treated, first of all by Eljamel and then by NHS Tayside.

“I think it’s hugely regretful and deeply disappointing that they’ve had to come back to parliament to get what they were promised.”

STV News is now on WhatsApp

Get all the latest news from around the country

Follow STV News
Follow STV News on WhatsApp

Scan the QR code on your mobile device for all the latest news from around the country

WhatsApp channel QR Code