Consultant anaesthetist struck off for beating son gets NHS job back

Consultant anaesthetist struck off for beating son gets NHS job back

01/17/2021

Consultant anaesthetist struck off for beating his 10-year-old son with broom handle gets NHS job back after blaming his Nigerian ‘cultural upbringing’

  • Dr Adekunle Okunuga, 59, caned his young son for misbehaving at school
  • In 2015 the doctor’s name ordered to be erased from the medical register 
  • Given all-clear to return to medicine and admitted behaviour was ‘excessive’

A consultant anaesthetist who was struck off after he beat his ten-year-old son with an aluminium broom handle has got his NHS job back after he blamed his conduct on his ‘cultural upbringing’ in Nigeria.

Dr Adekunle Okunuga, 59, caned his young son with the kitchen brush for misbehaving at school and made him perform squat thrusts and stand on one leg with his arms in the air while he kicked him.

During the assault, he also caned the boy’s open palms with a walking stick before finally stopping when he saw his son’s blood spatter over the kitchen floor. 

In 2015, Okunuga’s name was ordered to be erased from the medical register after he was found guilty of serious professional misconduct by a disciplinary panel.

But earlier this month the order was lifted and he was deemed fit to practise medicine again after the doctor, who worked at University Hospital Coventry, admitted his behaviour was ‘excessive and uncalled for’. 

Dr Adekunle Okunuga, 59, was struck off the medical register after he was found guilty of serious professional misconduct by a disciplinary panel in 2015. This month the order was lifted and he was deemed fit to practise medicine again

He claimed similar corporal punishment would be routinely carried out on children in his homeland. 

The doctor has been working at the National Orthopaedic Hospital in Lagos hospital in Lagos for the past three years.

The Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service in Manchester was told the assault occurred in June 2014 after Okunuga and his wife, who at the time lived in Rugby, Warwickshire, were summoned to their son’s primary school after the boy got into trouble for not submitting homework and lying to other pupils to seek attention.

On the day of the incident itself the boy – named as Child A – had been facing expulsion for swearing, using the word ‘rape’ and stamping on an injured girl during a PE lesson.

The couple collected the child from school but in the car, Okunuga began slapping his son from the passenger seat then once at home forced him to undertake squats and then to stand on one leg with his arms in the air.

Whenever Child A lost his balance, Okunuga would hit him with the handle of the floor brush on the back of his legs and then kick him to make him stand up again.   

He went to fetch a hammer and destroyed Child A’s games consoles before caning the boy across his open palms with a walking stick. He stopped when he became aware the boy had wounds on his hands that were bleeding.

The boy was treated in hospital for cuts and bruising and was later taken temporarily into foster care.

Okybnuga was arrested and convicted in September 2014 at Leamington Spa magistrates court of ill treating a child and was sentenced to eight weeks in jail suspended for a year with a requirement to complete 160 hours unpaid work. The boy was later returned to his family.

In 2015, a disciplinary hearing panel accepted the attack on the child was a ‘one off’ but said it was ‘sustained’ and ruled Okunuga should be struck off to send a message that his behaviour was ‘wholly intolerable.’ 

The doctor, who worked at University Hospital Coventry, admitted his behaviour was ‘excessive’ and claimed similar corporal punishment would be routinely carried out on children in his homeland

The father was arrested and convicted in September 2014 at Leamington Spa magistrates court of ill treating a child 

He had earlier described the attack as ‘unfortunate domestic matter outside his work’ and asked if he could ‘return to work as soon as possible.’

The restoration hearing began last September after Okunuga applied to General Medical Council to get his job back.

He said he had kept up to date with his medical skills and produced testimonials from patients and colleagues and also character references from his family –  including his wife and son.

He said he had grown up in a ‘different era, when physical chastisement of children was seen as part of a child’s discipline’ but told the hearing: ‘My actions towards Child A were excessive and uncalled for, and I accept I caused harm to Child A.

‘My actions embarrassed the medical profession and brought it into disrepute and as a member of the medical community, I should be role model. I apologised sincerely to the GMC and the wider public.

‘My behaviour was born out of my cultural upbringing, I should have known better and I take full responsibility for my actions. If I were to witness a similar occurrence by one of my colleagues, I would be the first to speak up and take action and report it to the appropriate authorities.’

He added: ‘I have been working abroad but have always given full disclosure of my sanction to all employers and the relevant medical authorities. 

‘I have attended courses in order to maintain my professional development and am clinically ready to resume practice in the United Kingdom where I could be of tremendous support to the medical community.’

In giving Okunuga the all-clear to return to medicine, MPTS chairman Ms Sharmistha Michaels said: ‘Then tribunal noted that Child A was returned to Dr Okunuga four months after the incident, and a child protection order placed on Dr Okunuga was removed three months after this in January 2015. 

‘The Tribunal was mindful this was an isolated incident and noted the 2015 Panel found that the risk of Dr Okunuga repeating his actions was very low.

‘There has been no evidence of any repetition in the six and-a-half years since the incident. Dr Okunuga has reflected on his actions and developed significant insight into their impact since the hearing in 2015. He has been open and honest about his actions and apologised fully and sincerely. 

‘In his reflective statement he understands the 2015 Panel were ”fair and just in its decision”.

‘He also stated it was naïve of him to think that the incident was a ”private matter” which had no bearing on his professional conduct. 

‘The tribunal considered that Dr Okunuga had now developed sufficient insight into how his actions had impacted on public confidence and the need to maintain and uphold proper standards of behaviour.

‘His expressions of remorse are genuine and was satisfied. There are no public safety concerns in relation to Dr Okunuga. He would be fit to return to unrestricted practice in the UK given his current medical skills.’

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