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Laughing gas party doctor 'free'

A doctor who held laughing gas "parties" on a children's ward can now practise freely, a disciplinary panel has ruled.

Jonathan Chahal potentially put the safety of his patients at risk while inhaling Entonox with a number of colleagues at Ormskirk General Hospital.

He used the medical anaesthetic from a gas canister on five occasions during the summer of 2007 - four of which while he was on duty.

He also persuaded seven nurses to inhale Entonox - frequently administered in childbirth to alleviate pain - at the same time as him.

On one occasion he was heard giggling in the ward's resuscitation room and told nurses the drug was "fun" and "made you feel floaty".

Lawyers acting for the General Medical Council (GMC) argued last July that the senior house officer's behaviour warranted at least a suspension after his fitness to practise was found to be impaired.

But a disciplinary panel ruled public interest was best served by imposing conditions on his registration such as being confined to NHS hospital posts and being supervised by a named consultant.

The GMC maintained his fitness to practise remained impaired at a 12-month review hearing held in Manchester on Monday. But the disciplinary panel disagreed and lifted the conditions after it heard the doctor had made "immaculate" progress with his new employers.

Dr Chahal was employed by Southport and Ormskirk Hospitals NHS Trust between August 2006 and July 2007 before he transferred to Alder Hey Children's Hospital in Liverpool, and later returned as a locum doctor. He was sacked from Alder Hey after the allegations first came to light.

He is now working at Preston Royal Infirmary as a clinical teaching fellow in the neo-natal unit.

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