Surgeon under 'severe' work restrictions

19:51, May 15 2014
Michael Parry
MICHAEL PARRY: Marlborough surgeon can only continue to work within strict limits.

A surgeon who appears to have botched multiple operations at a public hospital will be subject to extraordinary restrictions if he returns to work, the Medical Council says.

Zimbabwe-born doctor Michael Parry will need to undergo a performance assessment and if he passes he will only be able to perform minor procedures under the supervision of a registered surgeon.

''This is a very unusual step that we've taken,'' the council's education committee chairman Professor John Nacey told The Press. ''It's a very important move to ensure public safety.''

Parry stood down from his post at Wairau Hospital in Blenheim after the death of Jim Nicholls, 81, during surgery to repair a hernia and remove his gall bladder in May 2012. 

Parry was on paid leave until he resigned in May last year.

Another patient, Rachel Riddell, 31, died of blood loss in January 2011 after Parry removed her gall bladder.


A coroner's inquiry into the two deaths was put on hold in December 2012 when police launched a criminal investigation into one of the deaths, to determine whether there was any "liability or culpability". 

The deaths, along with surgeries Parry performed on Angie Webber, 28, a 37-year-old Upper Hutt woman, and a third patient, also came under scrutiny during the police inquiry.

Yesterday, police announced that evidence they gathered did not reach the threshold for prosecution and no charges would be laid.

Nacey told The Press the case was among the most serious the Medical Council had investigated.

''It's a very, very serious case.

''[There have been] serious complications that have lead to patient injury and there's no dispute about that.

''Council will certainly be putting severe limitations on his procedures if he wants to return to work.''

If Parry was able to gain employment in New Zealand his practise under supervision would be limited to:

- Endoscopy (an analysis of the bowel, described by Nacey as a ''low risk procedure'').- Removal of skin lesions

- Closure of wounds

Beyond that the only procedures he would be able to under take would be as an assistant surgeon.

The Medical Council would not issue Parry a ''certificate of good standing'' unless he underwent a performance assessment. That would hamper his chances of gaining employment overseas, Nacey said.

''If he wanted to work in another country they would write to the Medical Council and ask for a certificate of good standing  ... and they would need to know about ... the business to do with what's going on at the moment.

''That's a very serious constraint.''

Patients and family of those who died during surgery were upset Parry was not charged by police.''Council absolutely understands that for the families this has been a devastating sequence of events. I fully understand the grief and the devastation this has caused the families and as part of that the council takes this particular case very, very seriously,'' Nacey said.

''I think council would regard this as one of the more serious cases it would have to deal with and that's the reasons we're going through such stringent processes.''

Webber told The Press she felt "let down and angry" after yesterday's announcement by the police.

"I feel like justice wasn't served on him [Parry], " she said.

Riddell's sister, Lynn Weir, said she was shocked to learn charges would not be laid. 

The Nelson Marlborough District Health Board had a lot to answer for because it was "fully informed after each of those misadventures" but allowed Parry to keep operating, Weir said.

Nicholls' son, Paul, could not be reached for comment.

Police received information from the Nelson Marlborough and Canterbury district health boards, the Medical Council and the Health and Disability Commissioner. A surgeon in Hamilton also provided an independent report on Nicholls' operation. 

Findings of an investigation by the Health and Disability Commissioner is yet to be made public.

Parry moved to New Zealand in April 2010 after working in South Africa, England and Abu Dhabi. He was not at his Blenheim home last night and his lawyer, Rebecca Scott, could not be reached.

The Press