Surgeon suspended by GMC after breast operations

Breast reduction claim

17.11.2005

17/11/2005

A breast surgeon, who committed a series of operating blunders, leaving his patients with horrific wounds and permanent scars, has been suspended by the General Medical Council. (GMC)

Mr Brian Gwynn, who carried out surgery at Rowley Hall Hospital and Staffordshire General Hospital, both in Stafford, was ordered to appear before the GMC's Interim Orders Panel (IOP), which has now imposed an 18-month ban on him carrying out breast surgery in any NHS or private practise.

Mr Gwynn's blunders first came to light when Tracy Todd, a 39 year-old supermarket assistant and mother of three from Cannock, Staffordshire, sued the surgeon after her breast reduction operation left her with 'horrific' wounds, putting her health at risk with infections, and leaving her with misshapen breasts of different sizes.

Mrs Todd paid £3,000 to have a breast reduction on 25 September 2002 at Rowley Hall Hospital in Stafford. Over the following weeks, Mrs Todd's wounds became more painful and she started to leak large amounts of blood. After two weeks several holes opened up on one breast. Mrs Todd was advised that this was not unusual and that she should simply take painkillers and dress the wounds. Mrs Todd said: "The blood was pouring out of me so that when I walked along the street I looked as though I had been stabbed. At one point I was in so much pain I could have cut my left breast off."

Mrs Todd had been left so badly injured by the breast reduction that she was referred to an NHS plastic surgeon. She was diagnosed with staphylococcus aureus and beta haemolytic streptococcus group B, a flesh eating disorder.

On 8 November 2002, a plastic surgeon at the North Staffordshire Hospital in Stoke on Trent planned a 10-minute operation to clean up the infected breast but the wounds were discovered to be so badly infected that the operation actually took three hours and Mrs Todd remained in hospital for 11 days.

She subsequently underwent further corrective surgery to restore symmetry and reduce the scarring on 28 March 2003. Mrs Todd sued Mr Gwynn for clinical negligence and the case was settled for a substantial undisclosed sum in April 2005.

Breast operation claim solicitor

Mrs Todd's solicitor, Ally Taft, from the Birmingham office of national law firm Irwin Mitchell, explains: "As a direct result of the initial publicity surrounding Tracy's case back in March 2003, I was contacted by a further five women, all of whom had suffered very poor outcomes following operations performed by Mr Gwynn.

"Such was the extent of their injuries - and my concern that these five women were only the tip of the iceberg - that I took the decision to report Mr Gwynn's practices to the GMC's Fitness to Practice Directorate. Its investigations are ongoing and there has been no finding against Mr Gwynn as yet, but the seriousness of these cases has prompted the GMC to impose the Interim Order, effectively banning Mr Gwynn from performing any breast surgery, including breast reductions.

"This is good news as it means that while the GMC is deliberating the future of Mr Gwynn's fitness to practice surgery, members of the public are currently protected from him."

She added: "All of my clients have suffered terribly but Tracy's case was particularly horrendous. Tracy has worked hard to bring her concerns regarding Mr Gwynn's practices to the public's attention and she has finally achieved what she set out to do, which was to protect other people from going through what she endured."