Health: Surgeon removed from register over child deaths

The Health Professions Council of SA (HPCSA) has confirmed that pediatric surgeon Professor Peter Beale, accused of being responsible for the deaths of two children he operated on, is legally no longer permitted to perform surgeries on any patient. The HPSSA reportedly told the Sunday Times Daily: ‘Dr Beale has been removed from the HPCSA register. Beale has been removed based on other previous complaints on which he was found guilty.’ This revelation comes after Beale’s case was heard in the Gauteng High Court (Johannesburg) last week. It is here that Beale’s culpable homicide charge was escalated to murder after the death of his 10-year-old patient. The victim, Zayyaan Sayed, died in October 2019 at Netcare’s Park Lane Clinic. Zayyaan died after Beale performed what was meant to be a routine laparoscopic operation for reflux. He is also accused of fraud relating to the results of a distal esophageal biopsy, according to the indictment. Beale had initially been arrested alongside anesthetist Dr Abdulhay Munshi in October 2019. Munshi, however, was gunned down in Orange Grove in September 2020.

In a written reply, Beale said: ‘I am not permitted to speak to the media, but you may presume that the legal matter to which you refer has had far-reaching effects on myself, but nothing like the effect on the family of my anesthetist colleague Dr Abdulay Munshi who was assassinated September 2020. For a comprehensive review of the medical facts of this matter I would refer you to the current review on the Facebook page of SA Doctors United.’ The Sunday Times Daily report notes it was on this page that medical professionals threw their weight behind Beale, with more than 83 000 of them signing a petition for the charges against Beale and Munshi to be dropped, saying doctors were now under threat and would perform their duties in fear. At the time the two doctors were charged, the SA Medical Association had also expressed its concern over the charge, advising that a specialized medical court be established in which trained medical practitioners would be called to scrutinize decisions made by doctors. During his case last week, an additional charge of culpable homicide was added to Beale’s charges relating to the death of 21-month-old Alissa Strydom. She died in July 2016, also after what was supposed to be a routine surgery to treat her acid reflux.

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