Report Into Care Provided To 138 Patients At Salford Royal Infirmary Finds Number Of Concerns Including “Serious And Frequently Occurring Significant Professional Issues"
Specialist medical negligence lawyers are calling for a full recall of patients operated on by a spinal surgeon after a review found “significant” safety concerns regarding his practice.
The findings into an investigation into procedures performed by consultant John Bradley Williamson at Salford Royal Infirmary has been published.
Salford Royal Infirmary spinal surgery review findings are published
The report found a number of issues including:
• Substandard surgery was performed due to lack of care and attention
• Patients suffered long-term pain and mobility issues
• Those operated on suffered higher than expected blood loss
• There was a lack of informed consent by patients before operations were carried out.
• “In a high number of cases” the risks documented on the consent form and documents didn’t reflect those of the proposed surgery
• Mr Williamson displayed “unacceptable and unprofessional behaviour”.
• It identified “serious and frequently occurring significant professional issues.”
The review of more than 130 patients operated on between 2009 and 2014 also found seven people suffered “severe harm” while 13 suffered “moderate harm”.
How concerns and complaints from patients were investigated was also criticised. The report found health bosses identified issues as “recognised complications” as a result of surgery rather than clinical events. This meant they weren’t fully investigated and areas to improve patient safety weren’t identified.
Medical negligence lawyers call for full review as they support patients
Specialist medical negligence lawyers at Irwin Mitchell represent actress Ruth Madeley, who was operated on by Mr Williamson and continues to suffer problems.
The legal experts have spoken of their concern at the report’s findings and called for all patients operated on by the surgeon, who also worked at sites including Manchester Children’s Hospital and Spire Manchester, to be recalled for a review of their care.
Expert Opinion“Once again serious concerns regarding the care patients received are in the spotlight.
“When patients undergo surgery, they expect to receive the highest standard of care. This includes being made fully aware of the pros and cons so they can make an informed decision about their care and what’s best for them.
“The findings of this partial review of patients operated on by Mr Williamson makes for worrying reading. Not only does it identify serious issues around consent and the standard of care people received, it also highlights issues as to how the Trust seemingly didn’t fully investigate concerns and identify areas in which to improve patient safety.
“While it’s now vital that meaningful action is taken to improve patient safety, this review only examines a number of patients. Many others operated on by Mr Williamson are also likely to have concerns and questions.
“Therefore, we believe there should be a full recall of all Mr Williamson’s patients. It’s crucial they’re supported at this difficult time, not only to receive the answers they deserve, but where appropriate, access to the specialist support and rehabilitation they may require.
"Transparency is key to upholding public confidence in the system." Catherine Slattery
John Bradley Williamson review launched
Northern Care Alliance NHS Foundation Trust, which now runs Salford Royal Infirmary launched a Spinal Patient Safety Look Back Review in 2021. It was set up to examine Mr Williamson’s work while he was employed by the former Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust which used to run the hospital.
It followed a number of complaints from patients. Mr Williamson was employed at the Trust between 1991 and January 2015 when he was sacked.
Surgeon also believed to have worked at Manchester Children's Hospital and Spire Manchester, review report says
The review said it is believed during that time Mr Williamson also worked at Manchester Children’s Hospital and had practising privileges at Spire Manchester Hospital. It added separate investigations were under way into his practice at those hospitals.
The spinal surgery review into Mr Williamson’s work at Salford Royal, covered between August 2009 and September 2014 and related to 138 patients.
Review identifies 72 cases for recall
It identified 72 patients whose cases should be recalled for a review while 32 required no further action. Of the remaining 26 cases – 16 people who should have been recalled had died and 10 people who died wouldn’t have needed further review.
The review also found documentation was poor and found to be inaccurate or inconsistent with other records completed by healthcare professionals in a high number of cases.
His “surgical technique was judged to be poor in multiple cases”. This included issues with screw placement and screws being misplaced.
Actress Ruth Madeley says spinal surgery report doesn't go far enough
Ruth Madeley said: “For years I’ve had concerns about not only my care but also how my complaints have been handled. To finally see in black and white how patients didn’t always receive the care they should have but also that the Trust didn’t properly investigate is bittersweet. On the one hand I feel vindicated that my concerns were justified but also angry and upset at how patients were let down.
“Since having my first spinal surgery as a child, I feel my situation has got worse, and I live with chronic pain and fatigue. Sadly, I imagine my story isn’t a one-off and there’s many more people going through physical and psychological pain.
“This report is a welcome start but still doesn’t go far enough or cover the severity of what happened. I still feel that I don’t have all the answers to my questions and no doubt others will feel the same. The hospitals where Mr Williamson worked need to ensure they identify everyone he operated on and make sure any concerns they have are listened to and properly investigated.”
Find out more about our expertise in supporting patients concerned about their care from a surgeon at our dedicated group medical negligence claims section. Alternatively to speak to an expert contact us or call 0370 1500 100.