Concerns about Orthopaedic Surgeon in Birmingham

Concerns have been raised about the care given by a surgeon in Birmingham. 217 patients have been offered reviews after private operations at Spire Parkway in Solihull. The surgeon’s right to practice was then withdrawn by his NHS employers, University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust.The case raises questions about supervision both in the private sector and on the NHS.

WHO IS MR HABIB RAHMAN, AND WHAT IS HE ACCUSED OF?

Habib Rahman is an orthopaedic surgeon who practices at the Spire Parkway hospital in Solihull. Spire Healthcare restricted his practice in September 2018, suspended it in January 2019 and withdrew it in June 2019. It has apparently invited the Royal College of Surgeons, General Medical Council and Care Quality Commission to review his work. Since July 2019 the NHS trust has also imposed restrictions on him.

One patient is reported to have said that Mr Rahman performed 2 unnecessary operations on her. They were also outside his specialist field.

ANOTHER CASE OF CONCERN: IAN PATERSON

This news comes very shortly before an inquiry into the disgraced breast surgeon, Ian Paterson, is due to report. Paterson operated privately in Spire Hospitals in the West Midlands and on the NHS. He was jailed for 20 years after being convicted on 17 counts of wounding with intent. In fact he carried out unnecessary or inappropriate surgery probably on hundreds of patients. Some of his operations involved a procedure not recognised within breast surgery and increased the risk of recurrence in breast cancer sufferers.

ARE SURGEONS NOT BEING SUPERVISED PROPERLY?

Both situations suggest concerns about whether senior surgeons are adequately supervised both in NHS and private hospitals. The fact that Ian Paterson could carry on for so long and inappropriately treat so many people suggests a lack of accountability. The culture of NHS hospitals can also make it difficult for staff to raise concerns.

A recent story illustrates this. A hospital in Bury St Edmunds recently spent £2,500 on handwriting and fingerprint experts to identify a staff-member who blew the whistle on negligent care. When Susan Warby died at age 57 after a bowel operation, her husband received an anonymous letter highlighting what had gone wrong. In these circumstances guidelines state that hospitals and surgeons should take the initiative to tell patients of errors. Instead, identifying the whistleblower became the focus of investigation. Staff also accused hospital manager of bullying and intimidation. As a patient this is worrying, as surely it would be better to worry less about whistleblowing and more about why mistakes are happening.

SHOULD HOSPITALS TELL THE TRUTH?

It is in everyone’s interests for hospitals and staff are open with patients about things that go wrong – and they have a ‘duty of candour’. First, they can learn lessons from mistakes to avoid repeating them. Secondly, patients are less likely to makes claims for damages where they are treated openly and honestly. There is research suggesting that only 20% of people bringing claims do so for money. 80% are driven by other factors. Most of those factors concern how they are treated – whether they feel listened to, respected and treated with courtesy. An important fact or whether they are told openly and honestly when things go wrong. Defensiveness helps no one.

WHEN NEGLIGENCE CAUSES LOSS

Not all bad outcomes are due to negligence. Medicine is complex. However where patients are injured and suffer loss because their care falls below a reasonable standard they are entitled to bring claims for damages. Damages aim to put them in the positive way they would have been in but for negligence. They aim to restore what is lost.

EXPERTS IN SURGICAL NEGLIGENCE

Our team have successfully helped many clients whose lives were affected by surgical negligence, including the women operated on by rogue surgeon Rob Jones. Contact us today to find out more about how we can help.