A HOSPITAL trust has hit back at claims it has failed to properly reinstate a surgeon at Wharfedale General Hospital.

United Leeds Teaching Hospital' Trust spokesman Andrew Bannister said Anthony Owen had returned to his job as a consultant general surgeon at the Otley hospital three weeks ago.

"Mr Owen has returned to Wharfdale General, where he is taking one out-patients' clinic, one operating session and one endoscopy session a week," he said.

But the British Medical Association, which represented Mr Owen during his appeal, said it is unhappy with this workload.

Before his redundancy in May 1996, Mr Owen had been holding two outpatient sessions, three or four operating sessions and one endoscopy session a week

His job was phased out under a re-structuring of services made by the Trust when it took over the running of Wharfedale General Hospital.

A petition was organised by former patients of Mr Owen, resulting in more than 3,000 signatures calling for his reinstatement.

The then-Health Secretary, Stephen Dorrell overturned the decision on appeal in December 1996 and ordered the Trust to take Mr Owen back.

Negotiations then took place between the Trust and BMA representatives over the conditions of Mr Owen's return to work.

He also had to undertake some refreshment training - a standard procedure for surgeons returning to work after a period of absence.

Bill Mayers, general manager of the BMA's regional services in England, said: "We are disappointed that the Trust has refused to give Mr Owen the same sort of role as has been agreed with other consultant surgeons employed by it.

Mr Owen is to work exclusively at Wharfedale General Hospital and will not carry out any teaching or administration duties at any of the other trust hospitals.

"In our opinion this is not a proper implementation of the decision of the former Health Secretary. It is not the best use of scarce NHS resources," said Mr Mayers. "But, we find the trust is not inclined to carry on those negotiations," he added.

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