Man’s Bile Duct Severed During Procedure To Remove Gallbladder
A grandfather who has a shortened life expectancy after suffering complications in surgery outsourced from the NHS has called on private hospitals to be more transparent with patients.
Keith Salt suffered a bile duct injury during an operation to remove his gallbladder at the privately-run Spire Parkway Hospital in Solihull. A liver surgeon from an NHS hospital had to be called to help treat him and reconstruct the duct because there was no specialist team on hand.
Weeks after, Keith of Essington, Staffordshire, was admitted to an NHS hospital and diagnosed with the liver disease, cholangitis. His struggles are set to be included in a national feature length documentary about NHS privatisation on ITV.
The dad-of-three and grandfather-of-eight, suffers from regular gallbladder infections and has liver disease. He may even require a liver transplant. He is in regular pain and has been forced to retire from his job as a lorry driver and civil worker for a water company.
Keith, 60, who had been on a waiting list for several months, opted to undergo surgery at the private hospital while still an NHS patient under the Choose and Book scheme.
He instructed specialist medical negligence lawyers at Irwin Mitchell to investigate his care under Spire Hospital Company, which runs Spire Parkway, telling his legal team he was unaware there would be no specialists at the site to help him if complications arose.
Keith’s legal team secured him an undisclosed settlement which will fund the specialist care he requires and will become more reliant on over time. Spire Healthcare Ltd denied liability for negligence but admitted had Keith not suffered a bile duct injury he would have been in hospital for around three to five days and would have made a full recovery in six weeks.
Keith and his specialist legal team at Irwin Mitchell have now called for private hospitals to be more open with patients so they can make more informed decisions before electing whether to undergo surgery.
Expert Opinion“What has happened to Keith had a profound effect on him and his family.
Keith was severely ill and in chronic pain so when he was offered the opportunity to undergo surgery he understandably took this.
His case is among a number we have seen where unfortunately something has gone wrong in a private setting and a patient has had to wait for specialist care to rectify the issue. Often these delays can be critical.
Patients are focused on receiving the care they require rather than the often complex nature of the contracts between private healthcare providers and the professionals who work there.
We call on all private hospitals to ensure that patients’ needs and safety are always the top priority and people are made aware of the advantages and disadvantages of going private so they can make an informed decision about their care.” Caroline Brogan - Senior Associate Solicitor
Keith started experiencing stomach pains and bloating in early 2012. After several medical appointments and a hospital admission, and with his symptoms worsening, Keith was offered keyhole surgery to remove his gallbladder in September 2012.
However, he continued to face delays in a date being set for surgery. A GP made several requests for Keith’s surgery to be prioritised. Keith was referred to Spire Parkway Hospital in April 2013. Following a consultation Keith underwent surgery on 6 June, 2013.
Keith spent two days in intensive care following complications in surgery. He was readmitted to a NHS hospital on 21 June, 2013, and diagnosed with cholangitis.
Over the coming months he underwent several operations to clear blockages in his bile ducts. He had further surgery in August 2018.
Keith now suffers regular cholangitis attacks.>
He said: “We have always been family orientated and always enjoyed being able to help the children and grandchildren.
“We would regularly babysit for the grandchildren. I was the sort of granddad who would go running around, playing games. However, I cannot do as much of that now.>
“I am quite an independent person but I have depended on my wife, Tina and the rest of my family since I came out of hospital in June 2013.
“For months I was in agony and things seem to be getting worse. When I was told about being able to have surgery at the private hospital I thought that would be an end to things. My concentration was on the surgery to cure my symptoms, I wasn’t thinking about what could go wrong.
“I just feel that the risks and what could happen if there were complications were not fully explained to me. If I’d have known then what I now know I would have decided to wait for an appointment on the NHS.
“The last few years and coming to terms with everything and what it means for the future has been incredibly difficult.
“I know nothing can make up for what happened. I just think that private hospitals should be more open with patients so they can make the best decision about their care.”
Keith also features in a new documentary called The Dirty War on the NHS. Made by filmmaker John Pilger the film explores privatisation in the NHS.
It is due to be broadcast on ITV1 at 10.45pm on Tuesday, 17 December.