Heartbroken Family Still Seeking Justice After Tragic Death Of Man Who Was Treated By Professor David Berry

Lawyers At Irwin Mitchell Hope Lessons Have Been Learnt By The Welsh Health Board


The devastated partner of a man who died following botched liver surgery during which a major vein was damaged, has spoken out about the need for improved patient safety after taking legal action when his surgeon David Berry was suspended by the GMC.

Martyn Rogers died of blood poisoning and acute liver failure on 25 July 2012, a week after undergoing surgery by David Paul Berry to remove tumours from his liver at University Hospital Wales. Three days after the procedure, his organs began shutting down and it was discovered one of his major veins had been damaged.

Maria Davies, Martyn’s partner of 40 years who is now suffering from ill health herself, instructed specialist medical negligence lawyers at Irwin Mitchell, who also act for another client In the East Midlands who was treated by Professor David Berry, to investigate Martyn’s care and treatment.

The Health Board accepted that Martyn underwent an unnecessary colonoscopy and that the error in requesting this procedure led to a delay in the examination under anaesthetic (EUA) being undertaken. They also accepted that during surgery Martyn suffered damage to the portal vein.

Following the 66-year-old’s death, the Royal College of Surgeons (RCS) commissioned a report which found the surgery showed evidence of ‘poor judgment’ and ‘technical errors’...’reflecting poor operative skills’. It concluded Martyn’s death was ‘avoidable’.

The General Medical Council (GMC) has been investigating Prof Berry who has had restrictions on his practice since March 2013. He is no longer allowed to perform the procedure given to Martyn known as Hepatopancreaticobiliary surgery. The GMC sought a High Court extension to the restrictions on Professor Berry's license and at the end of last week his suspension was extended until February 2016.

After Martyn’s death Maria had serious concerns about the care other patients may have received given the standard of treatment her partner had received and took legal action to ensure that measures were being taken by Cardiff and Vale University Health Board to improve patient safety.

Irwin Mitchell has secured an undisclosed settlement from Cardiff and Vale University Health Board after they admitted that his treatment had been negligent – but the family are determined to keep campaigning for patient safety and to ensure that the GMC continue to strictly monitor Professor Berry.

Expert Opinion
“Even though the legal case has now come to a conclusion, Maria and her family feel there are still a number of unanswered questions surrounding Martyn’s care.

"We are pleased the GMC sought a High Court extension to Professor David Berry suspension and last week it was extended until February 2016.

“The report by the Royal College of Surgeons into his death was deeply concerning and Maria understandably wanted answers as to why Martyn’s death was described as avoidable.

“We welcome the GMC investigation into treatment by David Berry and hope that the health board can continue to provide reassurances to all patients that every possible step has been taken to protect future patient safety.”
Emma Rush, Associate

Maria, who lives in Newport, said: “Martyn had suffered bowel cancer since 2010 along with liver metastases but we were led to believe that the surgery would remove the tumours and ultimately prolong his life.

“It was heartbreaking to see Martyn deteriorate in front of my eyes following his last surgery with Dr Berry; especially as I could see he was in so much pain and there was nothing I could do to comfort him.

“To learn that Martyn’s death could have been avoided and his one of the surgeries he was given was actually unnecessary is very difficult to comprehend and has left me feeling angry and frustrated. I am still left with many questions as to why his treatment was so poor and have concerns that many others may have been affected as the RCS report suggests.

"Throughout the investigation, we also found out that Martyn was wrongly booked in a completely unnecessary repeat colonoscopy by a nurse Sian Thomas which further delayed his treatment.

"We are pleased that the GMC have decided to extend his practicing restrictions until next year, but hope that this continues for a much longer period of time.

“Neither myself or my family feel that we have secured justice for Martyn and we will continue to campaign and search for answers and I hope by highlighting what happened to Martyn that we are able  to ensure that no further people will suffer from the same substandard care as he did.”

If you or a loved one has suffered as a result of surgical negligence, we may be able to help you claim compensation. See our Medical Negligence Guide for more information.