Allegations against Spire Healthcare practitioners show need for more oversight within private healthcare sector

We wrote recently about the extensive harm caused to thousands of breast cancer patients by Ian Paterson while he was employed by the private healthcare provider Spire Healthcare at three of their facilities, as well as two NHS hospitals.

If you are not already aware of the Paterson case, in short he performed an unapproved version of a mastectomy he had developed that did not remove all breast tissue. Because of this, the cancer returned in some of his patients, and some of these then sadly passed away. Furthermore, Paterson also misdiagnosed many patients with breast cancer, and then persuaded them to undergo surgery and rounds of chemotherapy, causing them immense and unnecessary physical and mental trauma.

The new allegations

It has now emerged that Spire Healthcare had previously employed another surgeon, Michael Walsh, specialising in shoulder surgery who, it is alleged, performed unnecessary operations on patients between 2012 and 2018 that left many in pain, traumatised and unable to work. The company has now recalled nearly 200 people he treated and says that it has identified almost 50 it believed he might have harmed. In addition to breaking this story, The Guardian have also published a first-person account from one of Walsh’s patients too. It is important to note that these are allegations at this stage though and nothing has been proven yet.

To their credit, Spire Healthcare did act when concerns were raised about Walsh, as he was let go and Spire have shared the findings of their investigation with both the Care Quality Commission (CQC) and the General Medical Council (GMC). It should be said that Walsh has now retired and is no longer registered as a doctor.

In addition to Paterson and Walsh though, other Spire surgeons, including Habib Rahman and Manu Nair, have faced or are facing claims that they carried out surgeries that were unnecessary, inadequate or wrong. In total, Spire Healthcare are currently investigating the treatment given to 217 patients of Rahman, who is also a shoulder surgeon. Rahman worked at Spire’s Parkway hospital in the West Midlands, although he continues to be employed by University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust. Meanwhile, it was alleged that Dr Nair, that also worked at Spire Parkway Hospital in Solihull, performed unnecessary surgeries on patients he had incorrectly diagnosed as having prostate cancer, although minimal action was taken by the GMC following a three-year investigation other than preventing Dr Nair from continuing to work in private healthcare.

Our view

It does seem then that questions need to be asked about the culture at Spire Healthcare that has meant multiple surgeons working across a range of different specialisms have had allegations of misdiagnosing such serious conditions and then performing surgeries that have caused such significant mental and physical harm to patients.

From the details that have emerged following the investigations into Paterson and Dr Nair, it does appear that surgeons working for Spire Healthcare seem to work with little to no oversight or supervision. Therefore, it may be that Spire need to implement new standards and working practices for its surgeons and other medical staff to help ensure these kind of allegations do not continue to arise going forward.

Ultimately, all medical staff, regardless of whether they are working for the NHS or within the private healthcare sector, have a duty of care to their patients and are required to provide a certain standard of care. If the care they provide falls below this standard and harm is caused to patients, it is only right that patients and their families are able to claim compensation from them for the losses they have suffered. This applies to both the NHS and private healthcare providers. If you have suffered harm at the hands of medical staff while undergoing NHS or private healthcare treatment, you may be entitled to compensation then.

How we can help

At The Medical Negligence Experts, we work with solicitors who specialise in cases where misdiagnoses and unnecessary surgeries that cause harm have taken place. All of the solicitors we work with have a proven track record in these kind of cases and can help you to successfully claim the maximum amount of compensation you are entitled.

After your initial consultation with our advisors, during which we will talk to you in detail on a free no-obligation basis about the particular circumstances, we will match you with the firm who best suits the circumstances of your claim.

If you do decide to proceed, your solicitor will collect any evidence and will contact any witnesses to help build the strongest possible case to support the claim. These witness statements, along with the other evidence gathered, will be used not only to prove entitlement to compensation but also to show the extent of the physical and emotional suffering that has taken place to ensure the amount of compensation received is fair.

If you have any concerns and would like some advice to see if you, your friend or relative may have a case, do not hesitate to contact us via the contact form on our homepage or by calling 0161 413 8761.