'Liver branding' surgeon Simon Bramhall avoids jail, gets fine, community service

A leading British liver surgeon has been spared jail after he admitted branding his initials onto the livers of two patients.

Simon Bramhall, 53, was sentenced to a 12-month community order and fined £10,000 (NZ$18,900) on Friday (local time) after pleading guilty to two assault charges, but denying more serious charges of causing "actual bodily harm".

Bramhall's initials were discovered on the liver of a transplant patient by a different surgeon who carried out a later operation.

It was found after an investigation that Bramhall had intentionally branded his initials onto the liver of a second patient using an argon beam coagulator, often used to seal liver wounds.

"It was important to bring this prosecution, both for the victims and also to maintain the confidence of patients who put their complete trust in surgeons," said Frank Ferguson, head of special crime for the Crown Prosecution Service.

Bramhall claimed he had been "tired" during the surgeries, but Judge Paul Farrer said he had shown "professional arrogance of such magnitude that it strayed into criminal behaviour", according to media.