A SURGEON who was sacked after having an affair with a patient has appealed against his dismissal, it was confirmed last night.

Consultant gynaecologist Neil Hebblethwaite is attempting to win back his old job at the Friarage Hospital in Northallerton.

Mr Hebblethwaite hit the headlines last month when he become the second consultant gynaecologist to leave the North Yorkshire trust under a cloud.

Last night it emerged the surgeon had taken up his right to an appeal.

Bruce Skilbeck, acting chief executive of Northallerton NHS Trust, which operates the hospital, said a review panel consisting of an external senior doctor, a legal representative and a member of the trust board, was being constituted to hear the appeal.

"They will then review the process and act accordingly," he said, adding the procedure would be carried out "as promptly as possible".

At the time of his sacking, bosses at The Friarage said they had no choice but to dismiss the "committed and respected" 44-year-old Mr Hebblethwaite after an internal inquiry upheld a complaint made by a woman patient.

Mr Hebblethwaite's former colleague at the Friarage, Richard Neale, achieved national notoriety in the summer when he was struck off the medical register for botching a string of operations.

Graham Maloney, a spokesman for victims of Richard Neale and a supporter of the woman who made the allegations against Mr Hebblethwaite, said: "I hope common sense prevails and he is not reinstated. If he does get his old job back, it will further damage public confidence."

In a separate development, more than a dozen women who fear they may have been victims of Mr Neale have come forward since new allegations about the disgraced surgeon were published.

The women contacted a telephone helpline set up by solicitors last month. Unlike 77 previous complaints against the surgeon, a number of the new cases relate to his obstetric work rather than gynaecological care.

Simon John, a partner with the medical negligence specialists Cunningham John, said: "We have been approached by more than a dozen people during the last month, including a number of cases involving lack of obstetric care."

The trigger for the new wave of complaints is the case of a North Yorkshire mother-of-two. She contacted Cunningham John in October, 12 years after her newborn baby boy died at The Friarage.

The woman claims Mr Neale delayed performing an emergency Caesarian section until it was too late. It was only after the widespread publicity about Mr Neale that the woman came forward