Page last updated at 08:12 GMT, Thursday, 23 April 2009 09:12 UK

Bahrain F1 doctor was suspended

By Bill Law
BBC World Current Affairs reporter

The sun sets at the Bahrain International Circuit in Sakhir, Bahrain, on 21 April
Bahrain has been hosting a Formula 1 Grand Prix since 2004

The doctor who supervises Formula 1's Bahrain Grand Prix has been under suspension in the run-up to this year's race, the BBC has learned.

Dr Amjad Deeb Obaid has headed the F1 medical unit in Bahrain since 2007, with responsibility for a team of 150 medical professionals.

He was suspended this year after the death of a patient he had discharged.

Bahraini health ministry officials had found "professional deficiencies in [Dr Obaid's] medical ability".

Dr Obaid, a senior resident in the accident and emergency department of the Salmaniya Medical Complex, was investigated by a technical committee of the ministry of health over the death of a patient he discharged early last year.

The patient who suffered from sickle cell disease died shortly after he was sent home.

His family complained and Dr Obaid was investigated by the health ministry.

In a document seen by the BBC, the investigating committee recommended he be suspended from his hospital duties for six months, that when he returned he should not be assigned any supervisory capacities and that before he went back to A&E he should be retrained.

The initial report highlighted what it called "clear professional deficiencies in the medical ability" of Dr Obaid and another doctor at the same unit.

However, Dr Obaid's suspension, which was related to his work at Salmaniya Medical Complex, was cut to three months and subsequently implemented on 21 January 2009. It expired just three days before the start of the race this Friday.

Officials in the Bahraini Ministry of Health were not available to comment on the case or the suitability of Dr Obaid remaining in his position as chief medical officer for the Bahrain Grand Prix.

However, Formula 1 Management CEO Bernie Ecclestone said he was not concerned about the revelations.

"The suspension has ended. Everyone at the FIA (the sport's governing body) supports Dr Obaid. I can't see what the problem is."

Last week, the doctor was quoted in the English-language Gulf Daily News: "We have been training for months and have honed our skills at other events over the last year."

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