Expert Medical Lawyers Welcome Investigation Into Leeds Heart Surgeon

Surgeon At Heart Unit Facing Closure Told To Stop Operating

28.03.2013

By Suzanne Rutter

Specialist medical lawyers at Irwin Mitchell have welcomed a health trust’s investigation into the working practices of a heart surgeon in Leeds.

A surgeon at the children’s heart unit, who has not been named, has been asked by Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust to stop working over concerns about his work, although the allegations do not relate to children’s heart surgery, but to his adult cardiac work.

The trust said an ‘assessment’ of his practices was under way to ensure services remain of the highest standard but it was not linked to ‘adverse mortality or morbidity figures.’

Mark Tempest, a partner and expert clinical negligence lawyer at Irwin Mitchell’s Leeds office, said: “Patient safety must always be a top priority and we welcome any measures by hospital trusts to investigate incidents where standards may have fallen.

“At Irwin Mitchell we see too often the devastating consequences substandard surgery can have on people’s lives so it is important a review of this particular surgeon’s work is carried out quickly and thoroughly and that any lessons are learnt to protect patients in future.”

Earlier this week, a High Court judge quashed part of the NHS consultation process vital for introducing ‘long overdue’ changes to children’s heart surgery services in Leeds and across the country.

Mrs Justice Nicola Davies, sitting at London’s High Court, said part of the Leeds consultations, including a failure to make relevant information available to consultees was ‘ill judged.’

But she stressed she was only quashing a part of the original decision so that there could be ‘re-consultation and reconsideration’ over the Leeds closure.

Leeds is one of three units facing closure in the Safe and Sustainable NHS review, which was triggered by the Bristol heart scandal in the 1990s in which 35 babies died and dozens more were left brain-damaged.

The aim of the review is to provide fewer but more efficient units round the country.