A young girl ‘screamed’ and ‘fought off’ an anaesthetist who grabbed her by the throat before an operation, a court heard.

Dr Ola Shalaby, a consultant anaesthetist, is accused of assaulting the girl in the run up to her surgery at University Hospital of North Tees towards the end of last year.

The girl from County Durham, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was anxious and nervous about the operation when Shalaby, 54, is said to have forced a mask used to provide air and anaesthetic onto her face, and grabbed her by the throat.

The doctor pleads not guilty and denies the allegations. Her defence lawyer argued she did not force the mask onto the girl's face or grab her neck, suggesting her hand was placed lower down near the collarbone.

The Northern Echo: Ola Shalaby is on trial at Teesside Magistrates Court. She denies a charge of assault by beating.Ola Shalaby is on trial at Teesside Magistrates Court. She denies a charge of assault by beating. (Image: CHRIS BOOTH)

Teesside Magistrates Court heard ysterday (Tuesday, November 14) that the girl was “screaming” and “crying” after the incident which lasted a matter of seconds.

Staff had spent “some time” reassuring the girl into theatre before attempting to get her to hold the mask to her face. Her mother, who was in the room at the time told the court Shalaby, of Seven Hills Court, Spennymoor, appeared “frustrated” by her daughter’s anxiety over the surgery and anaesthetic process.

The parent said: “[Shalaby] said ‘you know we have five more minutes’, in a rather frustrated voice.

“Later on she said, ‘if you don’t put that mask on I am going to put it on for you’.”

Tearful, she aded: “She went around the back of [my daughter] and grabbed her by the throat.

“I was just in shock - I shouted, ‘get your hands off my daughter’.

“She (the girl) was trying to fight her (Dr Shalaby) off.

“She jumped off the bed and I took her away.”

The Northern Echo: The alleged incident occurred at University Hospital North Tees in Stockton.The alleged incident occurred at University Hospital North Tees in Stockton. (Image: SARAH CALDECOTT)

Two children’s nurses who also witnessed the incident gave evidence saying they saw Shalaby, who qualified as a doctor in 1992, putting her hand around the girl’s neck.

One of them, Deborah Lane, who was on her first day on the job and shadowing a senior, told the court: “She started screaming, struggling – just pure panic.”

The judge heard the atmosphere in the room was “chaotic”.

The girl said in a police interview that she was left feeling “really scared and traumatised” by the incident.

But defence counsel Mr Peter Lownds suggested to the witnesses they were wrong in saying Shalaby – who was swapped onto the girl’s procedure at the last minute when a colleague was called elsewhere – grabbed the girl’s throat, and that her hand was instead resting on her collarbone.

He argued: “I am going to suggest that Dr Shalaby was never frustrated at all during the entirety of this incident.”

The Northern Echo: Shalaby pleads not guilty to the charge against her.Shalaby pleads not guilty to the charge against her. (Image: CHRIS BOOTH)

Jennifer Chubb, an operating department practitioner who was in the room added: “I believe everything she had done was normal practice and nothing that would cause me concern.

“I wouldn’t describe her (Shalaby’s) tone as dictatorial.”

The court heard from three people in the room who said they had not seen Shalaby’s hand on the girl’s throat – including Chubb, another consultant anaesthetist and a registrar.

Shalaby pleaded not guilty to the charge of assault by beating at a previous hearing and maintained that stance yesterday.

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The anaesthetist has still been working pending her trial. The North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust said she was legally allowed her to continue her duties.

A trust spokesperson said: “We will work through the process of this trial and will act accordingly with any outcomes from it - working with all those involved in this case.”

If found guilty, she could face six months in jail or an unlimited fine, and potentially losing her job.

The trial, before District Judge Steven Hood, continues at Teesside Magistrates Court today (Wednesday).