Celebrity eye surgeon, 49, faces being struck off over 'financially motivated' private treatment of elderly patients
Sept. 15, 2019
A celebrity eye surgeon faces being struck off the medical register for serious professional misconduct over his ‘dishonest’ and ‘financially motivated’ treatment of elderly patients at his private clinic.
Disgraced Bobby Qureshi, who described himself as a ‘world-famous ophthalmologist’, was exposed in a lengthy investigation by The Mail on Sunday following complaints from patients and whistleblowers.
The surgeon allowed the use of ‘unconscionable’ hard-sell tactics at the London Eye Hospital to encourage desperate patients to pay up to £25,000 for new lenses which he claimed could improve their sight, a tribunal found.
Mr Qureshi, 49, ‘told lies’ about the benefits they could expect, and failed to properly warn patients of the uncertain risks of the operations, which used novel technology that he had helped to develop, it heard.
In doing so, the tribunal concluded that the doctor, who successfully treated EastEnders actress June Brown and socialite Lady Annabel Goldsmith, put his own financial interests above the interests of patients.
Trusting patients reeled in by charismatic Mr Qureshi – most were in their 70s and 80s, and suffering from incurable age-related macular degeneration (AMD) – parted with their savings only for the highly publicised procedure using iolAMD or EyeMax lenses to make little or no difference.
The verdict by the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service (MPTS) follows a lengthy hearing which began in January and took evidence from 24 patients.
And it comes more than two years after this newspaper exposed an appalling litany of complaints over Mr Qureshi’s practice at his Harley Street clinic – allegations the doctor denied and which he repeatedly attempted to prevent us from publishing.
Charity the Macular Society also submitted 20 patient cases to the doctors’ regulator, the General Medical Council (GMC), which launched an investigation and placed restrictions on Mr Qureshi’s practice.
The allegations have now been found proved and he faces sanctions which include being erased from the register, a 12-month suspension or conditions placed on his registration.
One patient, a retired plastic surgeon, said Mr Qureshi had left him feeling ‘bereft’.
Another described the surgeon as ‘the Messiah who was going to restore her sight’. She gave him her life savings of £22,000, only to find her vision much the same.
Margaret Harvie, who is now registered blind, describes herself as ‘another of the unfortunate victims of this unscrupulous man’.
The retired teacher, 79, from Carluke, Lanarkshire, was overjoyed to be told the lenses would give her much improved distance vision and allow her to read again. But the benefits failed to materialise.
When she complained, Mr Qureshi became ‘aggressive’, defended his surgery as pristine and declared her eyes ‘were at fault’.
Mrs Harvie said: ‘The experience has robbed me of £25,000 and of many hours of sleep and peace of mind.
‘I can’t go out on my own and I now use audio books as I can’t read. I was scared to answer the phone and lost all my self-confidence – it was a very unpleasant experience. ‘If he lied to patients, he should be struck off.’
Mr Qureshi, who now lives in Dubai as a ‘non-dom’ for tax purposes, tried to delay the start of the hearing because he is permitted to be in the UK for only 90 days a year, and attending could prompt a tax demand on his worldwide earnings since 2015. The application was rejected.
Cathy Yelf, chief executive of the Macular Society, said she was pleased the tribunal’s determination was clear on Mr Qureshi’s conduct, adding: ‘His behaviour has shocked us and caused immense distress and financial harm to many people.’
The London Eye Hospital is now in administration, owing at least £58,000 to a group of patients, with a significant number understood to be launching legal claims against the clinic.
MPTS panel chairman Tim Bradbury said: ‘Mr Qureshi’s proven conduct included placing patients at risk of harm, dishonesty and other fundamental and wide-ranging breaches of good medical practice.’
The panel is now considering whether to impose sanctions. A decision is expected this week.
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