Former Patients Of Darlington Surgeon Dr Benjamin Ononeze Launch Legal Action

Surgeon Found Guilty Of Serious Misconduct At Tribunal Hearing


Former patients of a Darlington surgeon who has been found guilty of serious misconduct by a health watchdog have instructed lawyers to investigate the care they received.

Dr Benjamin Ononeze, who worked at Darlington Memorial Hospital as a consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist from 2004-2011, was found guilty of serious misconduct at a Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service (MPTS) hearing in Manchester last October.

He was told that his actions while working at the Memorial fell below the standards expected of a reasonably competent doctor.

Dr Ononeze described a woman’s uterus as “like cheesecake and breaking into bits” after he removed it in an “inappropriate” procedure when an operation to remove an ovarian cyst went wrong.

He also admitted causing a “traumatic and unnecessary” instrumental delivery of a baby when a caesarean was called for and incorrectly removing an ovary from a woman during a hysterectomy, despite previously agreeing not to touch it.

It was revealed the surgeon also left a swab inside a patient after an outpatient procedure, which was not discovered until a month later – which is classed by the NHS as a ‘never event’ – something that simply should not happen.

Panel chairman Dr Clive Richards told Dr Ononeze following the hearing that: “The panel considers that your actions taken as a whole fell seriously below the standards expected of a reasonably competent consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist.”

It was ruled that a 12-month period of conditional registration would protect the public and allow the doctor to improve his skills. Dr Ononeze must also abide by 14 conditions, which restrict his practice and he is being closely monitored by the General Medical Council (GMC).

He will have to attend a review hearing before the end of the 12-month period to prove he is fit to return to unrestricted practice.

Dr Ononeze also worked at the Bishop Auckland General Hospital, the BMI Woodlands Hospital in Darlington and the Spire Washington Hospital.

Expert Opinion
It is clear from the findings of the MPTS hearing that the care Dr Ononeze was giving patients fell well below what was expected.

“We are also concerned to hear that one patient fell victim to a never event when a surgical swab was left inside her.

“Never events should be just that – events that simply do not happen and we hope the patient is being supported by the Trust and provided with answers about how it was possible for this to occur.

“The Trust must also be open and transparent with all former patients of Dr Ononeze who have concerns about the care they received. There must be a thorough re-call in place by the Trust that ensures concerns are thoroughly investigated to provide information to patients and ensure lessons can be learnt to protect future patient safety.”
Angela Kirtley, Partner