Law Firm Reports Surgeon To GMC After Man Loses Leg Because Of Error

Doctor failed to correctly monitor injury


A leading medical law expert from Irwin Mitchell is reporting a Leeds surgeon to the General Medical Council and calling for answers from the NHS after a 21-year-old was forced to have his leg amputated when the doctor failed to correctly monitor his injury.

Law firm Irwin Mitchell is representing Simon Aitcheson, a trainee accounts clerk from Bradford, who now has long term mobility problems and will need further care, an adapted property and a special prosthesis. The consultant who treated him has since been suspended and is being investigated by the medical authorities.

Simon was admitted to Leeds General Infirmary in June 2008 for an operation to correct a three centimetre left leg length discrepancy and foot deformity using a Taylor Spatial fixator frame. This is a highly specialist procedure.

However Simon has now been left with one leg after his orthopaedic surgeon, Toby Branfoot, failed to treat him correctly and he was forced to have an amputation.

Simon said: “I cannot describe what the last 12 months have been like for me. My whole life has been turned upside down due to the misconduct of one person. No amount of money can compensate for the life changing circumstances I have had to adjust to.

“Eighteen months ago I had my whole life ahead of me and was working hard and taking my accounts exams. I have had to give this all up now to rebuild my life and make plans for a new future. I hope to pick up my course again and complete my training and try to live as much of a normal life as is possible.”

Rachelle Mahapatra, Head of the medical law team at Irwin Mitchell in Leeds, who represents Simon, said:

"Simon has lost his leg unnecessarily due to the failure to appreciate the significance of the findings on x-rays following the wrong use of a frame. Due to the way the frame was turned as part of the leg lengthening procedure they were in fact causing a progressive deformity to the bones in the foot. That led to skin breakdown and infection and the disruption was so significant by the time he was independently reviewed they could not save his leg.

“The amputation is an unnecessary tragedy which will affect his personal and professional life and is likely to cause further medical problems as he grows older".
"Given the clear x-ray findings throughout his treatment there were a number of missed opportunities to try to rectify the problem.
“It is totally unacceptable from qualified consultants to miss so many opportunities to diagnose such serious problems. Simon now just wants to know what went wrong so that he can try and get on with his life.

“Improving patient safety has to be the paramount concern of the NHS and its consultants and lessons need to be learned from this case to prevent anyone else having to go through what Simon has.”

The Clinical Negligence team at Irwin Mitchell in Leeds is also speaking to another patient who needs revision surgery due to Branfoot’s treatment and is currently awaiting independent medical evidence. 

Mahapatra added: “There is uncertainty surrounding this consultant’s work at Leeds General Infirmary and it is unclear how many other patients may have been affected. What is clear is that there have been avoidable mistakes and we have heard from a number of people who have suffered from problems that should not have occurred.”


Simon was admitted to Leeds General Infirmary in June 2008 for what should have been a simple operation to correct a 3cm leg length discrepancy and foot deformity using a fixator frame

Once the frame is attached the surgeon follows a plan of gradually turning the frame to lengthen the limb. It’s a bit like traction.

It is important to keep the patient reviewed to make sure the bones are in the correct position. If not then you may need to modify the way the frame turns.

Toby Branfoot, the consultant, failed to pick up on x-ray that the foot bones were gradually deforming. Branfoot did not take into consideration Simon’s foot deformity and continued to adjust his frame in accordance to the initial plan even though it was clear from the x-rays that the foot was getting worse. No action was taken to remedy the increasing injuries to Simon’s foot and due to the position of the frame, Simon developed damage under the skin of his foot which led to a secondary infection, which was also untreated.

Simon was reviewed late November 2008 by a team of surgeons. Their examination revealed complete disruption of the ankle and subtalar joints, disassociation of the talar bone, and infection on the sole of his foot. They could not reconstruct by then due to the extent of the damage and so had no choice but to amputate.

An independent expert said that the problems on the x-rays were obvious and could have been corrected at an early stage and as a result of this Simon would have a leg of equal length as initially planned.

Since this has happened Mr Branfoot has been suspended from Leeds General Infirmary and is pending a Royal College of Surgeons assessment of his competence followed by an investigation from the General Medical Council.