A PENSIONER died after being operated on by a surgeon whose competence had been questioned by colleagues.

At a pre-inquest hearing in Ruthin John Gittins, coroner for North Wales East and Central, said he understood that five previous procedures carried out by Georgios Akritidis while at Glan Clwyd Hospital, Bodelwyddan, might have been considered “iffy” and raised questions about his capability.

Following the death of 81-year-old Arthur Price Hughes in October, 2014, North Wales Police launched an investigation into possible criminal negligence but after considering the report of an independent expert the complex case unit of the Crown Prosecution Service decided not take proceedings against the surgeon.

Greek-born Mr Akritidis started work at Glan Clwyd as a locum in August 2014 and Mr Gittins said there was evidence that concerns were soon raised about his capability.

A meeting was held with him on October 8 and on October 17 it was decided that he should be allowed to continue to carry out surgery under supervision the following week.

Mr Hughes, of Penrhyn Avenue, Rhos-on-Sea, who had been admitted with a bowel obstruction, went under the knife on October 20, but Mr Gittins said there were “concerns about the processes which were followed during surgery”.

He died four days later and Home Office pathologist Dr Brian Rodgers gave the cause of death as multi-organ failure due to intra-abdominal haemorrhage caused b y vascular injury during surgery for bowel cancer.

At the pre-hearing Mr Gittins outlined to members of Mr Hughes’ family some of the issues which he would be examining at the full hearing later this year.

They included the recruitment procedure adopted by the Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board when appointing Mr Akritidis, whether references were taken up, the steps taken to investigate the concerns about his work, the level of supervision and the procedures during the surgery.

“In particular I shall look at the decision-making on the October 17 to allow him to continue the following week, when he operated on Mr Hughes, and the terms of the supervision,” he said.

Mr Akritidis’ contract was terminated immediately after Mr Hughes’ death and in addition to the police investigation the Health Board carried out a serious incident review.

Referring to his responsibility to try to prevent future deaths, the coroner said: “My understanding is that he (Mr Akritidis) is still undertaking medical work.”

He said he intended calling the surgeon to give evidence at the inquest and that he expected him to be represented by the Medical Defence Union.

“If he chooses not to be involved in the process I shall summons him to attend,” he added.

A further pre-hearing will be held in June, with the full hearing likely before the end of the year.