Director of emergency assistance for Travel Insurance Facilities (tifgroup) accused of 'serious failings'
Formal allegations against Dr Miguel Nadal, of travel insurer tifgroup, have been referred to the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service (MPTS) by the General Medical Council (GMC).
While an official tribunal date is not set yet, COVER understands that MPTS tribunals, which make a decision about a doctor's fitness to practice, are conducted independently with the GMC acting as prosecutor for the case.
According to a report in The Times, the tifgoup director of emergency assistance is accused of ‘impairment by misconduct' in relation to three cases in which policyholders have died. In at least two of these cases, families of the deceased accuse Dr Nadal and tifgroup of refusing to arrange a medical evacuation.
One of the cases involved 72-year-old Mr Blake who had a heart attack while on holiday in Lanzarote and died six weeks later, on his return to the UK. The travel insurer argues that Mr Blake was not moved because he was not fit to fly. We reported on the FOS interim findings of the case here.
After consultation with independent medical experts experienced in medical air transfers, the GMC concluded in its report: 'The experts have identified serious failings relating to Dr Nadal's involvement in the three cases. These failings relate to: inadequate assessment of patients; inadequate assessment of current treatment facilities overseas and in the UK; failings to obtain specialist advice on clinical conditions; inadequate decision making in terms of balancing risks and benefits of repatriation; failing to provide a definitive management plan (regarding patient transfer); inadequate and inappropriate communication with family members and inappropriate communication with other professionals.'
The GMC also stated that it is a concern that ‘serious failings' identified by two separate experts related to the three cases indicate a ‘pattern of repeated misconduct'.
When COVER contacted tifgroup for comment, the insurer declined the opportunity, however it told The Times: "We obtain medical advice on insurance related issues, such as patient transfer, from a number of doctors. In the vast majority of cases and wherever possible decisions are made by a panel of two or three doctors."
It added: "Dr Nadal denies any wrongdoing and the details of the allegations are confidential. We will consider the outcome carefully and appropriately once the tribunal has heard all the evidence and decided whether or not the allegations are proven, which to restate, has not happened yet."
Michelle Sullivan, the daughter of Mr Blake, told COVER: "We are delighted by the news Miguel Nadal is being taken to the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service relating to the death of our father and others. We are also delighted by Financial Ombudsman's preliminary 19-page report but tifgroup have submitted information and its publication has been delayed."
Travel insurance policies underwritten by tifgroup on behalf of Union Reiseversicherung AG (URV) are available via the Boots Travel Insurance website and various other outlets including Holidaysafe, Alpha, Puffin, World-first and Flexicover.