Two surgeons criticised over deaths at Britain’s worst hospital are still carrying out operations – without patients knowing about their record.
An investigation by the Bureau and published in the Sunday Mirror, reveals that Medics Roderic Hutchinson and Rathinam Ravikumar are being probed as part of a wider public inquiry into 1,200 patient deaths at scandal-hit Stafford Hospital.
A report by the Royal College of Surgeons (RCS) claims Hutchinson has shown a “serious lack of judgement” and details “major concerns” about Ravikumar.
Their names are blanked out in the 2009 RCS report, meaning their current patients are unaware of their past.
But now, after our investigation with the Sunday Mirror, we are naming them.
The General Medical Council is investigating both surgeons but says it is safe for them to keep working – as long as a consultant is supervising them.
Ravikumar, 52, who joined Stafford Hospital in 2003, made mistakes in several operations. According to the 2009 report, which is published online, he:
* Operated on a tumour despite three clinical teams saying it was inoperable, which “led directly” to a woman’s death.
* Operated on a seriously-ill patient who later died. Reviewers were “appalled by the mismanagement of this case”.
* Gave “substandard” care to a patient who died after bowel surgery but is likely to have survived if dealt with properly.
In 2009 Ravikumar’s patient Peter Allman died of deep vein thrombosis after he was discharged from hospital. A coroner criticised the decision not to prescribe him blood-thinning pills, which Ravikumar said was “ultimately my responsibility”.
The question the GMC should ask is, ‘Would they be happy for a loved one of theirs to receive an operation from these surgeons?
Hutchinson, 50, joined Stafford Hospital in the mid-1990s. The RCS’s report says he showed in some cases “a serious lack of judgment” and added: “Decisions seem to be simply wrong with devastating outcomes”.
The report claims Hutchinson:
* Was involved in “grossly negligent” care of cancer patient David Pearse who later died. Coroner Ian Smith said: “I am concerned there was no CT scan before the surgery and that surgery of a very difficult nature didn’t involve another specialist.”
* Put a woman through surgery which “failed to address the underlying problem and led to her death”.
*h Didn’t collect leaking fluid from a “clearly very septic” woman. The leak “in itself would have been enough to cause the patient’s death”.
Shadow Health Secretary John Healey said last night: “It’s wrong that details of serious concerns about these surgeons have been held back. New standards of open information are now needed, including a patient’s right to know about the track record of doctors set to operate on them.”
In 2009, before he became Prime Minister, David Cameron pledged to let patients choose their surgeon and blasted the “closed culture within our hospitals”. He said: “There’s too little information available to the public about the problems that exist – meaning problems can be hushed up.”
Campaigner Julie Bailey, whose mother Bella died at Stafford Hospital, said: “Now Mr Cameron is in power he should act on that because patient choice is meaningless if you don’t know about your surgeon’s record.”
And Peter Walsh, of Action against Medical Accidents, said: “The question the GMC should ask is, ‘Would they be happy for a loved one of theirs to receive an operation from these surgeons?’.”
Hutchinson and Ravikumar are now working for Heart of England NHS Trust, which runs hospitals in Birmingham, Solihull and Sutton Coldfield.
The RCS’s report says he showed in some cases “a serious lack of judgment” and added: “Decisions seem to be simply wrong with devastating outcomes.
They have fully complied with conditions imposed by the GMC, including that they are supervised by a consultant.
The surgeons’ lawyer – who argued that it was not in the public interest to name them – said: “Both continue to co-operate with investigations being undertaken by their employing trust and by the GMC.
“Reports from their supervising practitioners are supportive.
“We would emphasise that the RCS report was written in 2009 and the position has changed substantially since then. In the circumstances, we would query the validity of the RCS report as a basis upon which to justify any concerns about our clients’ current suitability to practise.
Read the Sunday Mirror Opinion piece here.