Warnings at Hospital “ignored” despite tip-offs

29 May 2014

Warnings at Hospital “ignored” despite tip-offsWarnings at Hospital “ignored” despite tip-offs

Problems with surgical operations at a hospital group in Kent were raised by hospital staff, but routinely ignored, a report has revealed.

Despite “potentially avoidable” complications on the operating table being raised about three surgeons, senior managers “brushed aside too readily” the complaints that were made-resulting in the unorthodox measure of staff having to send an anonymous letter to the General Medical Council to raise the red flag.

The service in question regarded surgical procedures and operations conducted by three surgeons at Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells, which led to the death of five patients due to complications which the report deemed to be “potentially avoidable”.

A "dysfunctional" team of surgeons

Investigations published by a Royal College of Surgeons (RCS) found that the Kent trust utilised a “dysfunctional” team of surgeons who specialised in upper-gastrointestinal surgery.

Three surgeons in the team were singled out for their poor work with red flags highlighting their poor insight into the existing problems within their service, failing to understand which surgeon was responsible for an individual patient resulting in the shocking finding that patients were seeing different surgeons as their operations were being performed such was the rife disorganisation within the team.

The report further explained how the three surgeons often failed to attend multi-disciplinary meetings and that it took an anonymous staff letter in May 2011 to raise the alarm about their poor practice, highlighting that the surgeons were adopting “dangerous and unethical practices.”

"I would like to apologise to the families involved"

The three surgeons were suspended from performing laparascopic upper GI procedures last January following the initial findings of RCS investigators.

Mistreatment.com has spoken to a number of clients who had raised concerns about treatment at the trust, and who spoke to our specialist upper-gastrointestinal surgery teams about their experiences and what their available options were in light of what they had seen and experienced.

Trust medical director Dr Paul Sigston formally apologised for the shocking findings, stating:

"I would again like to apologise to the families involved. We are now able to share this report with them that forms part of an in-depth investigation carried out by the trust."

It was only after a doctor at the trust spoke to the Sunday Telegraph newspaper that it became clear the degree to which staff concerns were being brushed aside with little or no further investigation.

The doctor said: "I reported my concerns about what I was seeing to my consultant but I was just given the brush off. Several other junior doctors, and nursing staff, expressed their concerns, but they all had the same experience as me. They just felt brushed off and that it was not being dealt with.

"This culture of denial is a problem across the whole NHS"

“In my experience this culture of denial is a problem across the whole NHS, but I’ve never seen it as bad as it is at Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells."

Worryingly, the paper says other deaths linked to the problems may only now emerge after the findings of the report.

If you or a loved one know of any such worrying malpractice at Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells hospitals-or anywhere else-Mistreatment.com has a number of specialist teams that can provide you with the advice, guidance and support to raise your concerns and to take action or simply to better understand your patient rights.