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Senior garda wrote to Medical Council with ‘serious concerns’ over drug-driving doctor

Dr Syed Waqas Ali Bukhari was working as a highly respected surgeon when he ran up a string of convictions

Syed Ali Waqas Bukhari (33) was a surgeon in Cavan General Hospital

Alan SherrySunday World

A GARDA Superintendent said he had serious concerns about the ability of a surgeon at Cavan General Hospital to “discharge his duties without risk of serious harm or death” to patients after he was arrested for offences including drug driving.

The comments, which were made by the Superintendent to the Medical Council in relation to Dr Syed Waqas Ali Bukhari, can now reported after the High Court has lifted an anonymity order in relation to a Medical Council disciplinary case following submission from lawyers from Mediahuis Ireland.

Dr Bukhari, who no longer works in Cavan General Hospital but has not been suspended from the medical register, was working as a highly respected surgeon when he ran up a string of convictions for offences including driving while under the influence of cannabis, drink driving, driving without insurance or a licence, using two fake driving licences and speeding at over 200kmh.

The Sunday World spoke to Dr Bukhari’s in relation to his convictions last September when he told us “shit happens”.

It could not be revealed at the time that Dr Bukhari is also facing disciplinary proceedings before the Medical Council arising out of concerns about his convictions and drug use.

The Medical Council had sought for Dr Bukhari to be suspended while awaiting his disciplinary hearing as it considered “it was necessary to protect the public until steps or further steps were taken”.

Syed Ali Waqas Bukhari (33) was a surgeon in Cavan General Hospital

The High Court decided in December 2021 not to suspend him, pending the disciplinary hearing, after he gave certain undertakings, including not to breach the road traffic laws.

However, last July the Medical Council brought the case back to court after it learned he had driven again some eight weeks after the December undertakings, and while he was disqualified.

He once again avoided suspension after giving further undertakings but is no longer working at Cavan General Hospital.

He had been given a five-month prison sentence for driving while suspended, which he appealed.

One of the primary reasons the Medical Council sought his suspension pending the outcome of a disciplinary process was concerns they had after a Superintendent in Cavan wrote to the Medical Council in November 2021 expressing serious concerns about Dr Bukhari.

The letter stated: “I refer to the above named doctor, who I understand is employed as a medical practitioner in the surgical and general wards at Cavan General Hospital. I communicate with you on the basis of serious concerns held at this office regarding the ability of [the respondent] to discharge his duties without risk of serious harm or death to the patients he comes into contact with as a registered medical practitioner.

“While [the respondent] is employed In Cavan General Hospital, he also resides within the Garda District. This has resulted in the subject coming into contact with An Garda Síochána on a number of occasions, most recently in July 2021.

“In accordance with obligations placed on me under the Garda Síochána Act 2005 (Duty to Protect Life) and the European Convention on 8 Human Rights (Article 2), I am to inform you that [the respondent] has had a number of convictions imposed on him under the Road Traffic Act 1961, as amended, and also the Misuse of Drugs Act 1997/84.

“In some cases, the subject has come into contact with Gardaí while enroute to/from work and in surgical scrubs and as advised I have what I believe to be valid and genuinely held patient safety concerns.”

Syed Ali Waqas Bukhari (33) was a surgeon in Cavan General Hospital

When the Sunday World called to his home last September, he said he never let his drinking and drug taking affect his work.

He admitted it was unusual for someone in his line of work to be convicted of such offences.

“It is. The judge thought that. I’m not working anymore. They haven’t suspended me or anything but obviously with investigations going on, it’s hard to get work.”

Asked what was going on when he committed the offences, he said “I had a lot going on. I have been suffering through some medical illness and all that. Shit happens, you know.”

In relation to him being stopped while high and wearing medical scrubs he told the Sunday World that occurred when he was off duty and said he had never gone to work under the influence of drink or drugs or put his patients at risk.

“I have a lot of referees from my work that I never showed up work with [any issues or under the influence]. I’ve never let it affect my work. It was outside of work. I have like very good referees by colleagues and all given me excellent (recommendations) and said I’m very professional and whatnot.”

We can now reveal he previously told the Medical Council that he was not “directly affected” by the “reckless things” which he had been doing and that he had not “let this affect [his] work life”. He requested that his “personal matters should be separated from [his] work as this has not affected [his] work in any sort of way”.

Asked how he was driving in July 2021 when at that stage he had been disqualified for 10 years he said he had been led to believe by his insurance brokers that he was permitted to drive and that he had insurance. He stated that he was advised by his brokers that if he obtained an international licence, he would be able to drive and blamed the insurance broker for providing him with misleading information.

Syed Ali Waqas Bukhari (33) was a surgeon in Cavan General Hospital

In relation to being stopped by Gardaí under the influence of cannabis while wearing his scrubs, that on a particular occasion, he had gone to a friend’s house after work and had not changed his clothes but was not driving to or from work at the time.

While Dr Bukhari said he hadn’t been suspended when the Sunday World approached him in September Mr Justice David Barniville, in his ruling last week, said he did not say to our reporter that he was required, as part of his further undertakings last July to the High Court, to notify any prospective employer of the existence of the disciplinary complaint against him.

The judge said the court had only accepted his undertakings by the finest margin possible and not suspended him. Yet he did not volunteer this qualification in his comment to the newspaper reporter, he said.

The judge ruled that Dr Bukhari could now been named in relation the Medical Council Case which he adjourned to next May.

Dr Bukhari’s offending is all related to driving and drugs offences.

In 2016, while he was working as a doctor in Sligo, he was caught speeding at over 200kmh on the N4 in Sligo. He came up behind an unmarked garda car at high speed and flashed his lights at Garda Peter McDonnell before whizzing past him. Garda McDonnell tried to pursue him but couldn’t keep up with him even though the garda was doing 200kmh. Dr Bukhari was convicted of careless driving and banned for driving for four months and fined €2,000.

He later got a job in Waterford before taking up a position in Cavan General Hospital a number of years ago where he was very highly thought of by colleagues.

He was subsequently convicted of a number of driving offences including two drink driving offences and driving without insurance.

Despite being banned from driving for those offences he continued to get behind the wheel and was arrested by Garda Aisling Walsh driving while stoned at Town Parks in Cavan on July 19, 2021.

He pleaded guilty to driving while under the influence of cannabis, driving uninsured, driving without a licence, using a fake driving permit from Pakistan and a fake Punjabi driving licence.

He was sentenced to five months behind bars at Cavan District Court in May for those offences but is currently appealing the sentence.

He appeared in court again in June after he was caught driving again with no licence or insurance on Farnham Street in Cavan on February 14 two months after giving an undertaking to the High Court that he would not get behind a wheel.

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