Breast surgeon in misconduct case
A Staffordshire vascular and breast surgeon, who committed a series of operating blunders, leaving his patients with horrific wounds and permanent scars, has been issued with a warning by the General Medical Council (GMC). The GMC has also advised Mr Gwynn not to carry out any breast surgery or see any breast patients in any NHS or private work.
The GMC, met in Manchester today (Friday 27th February) to formally hand down sanctions to surgeon, Mr Brian Gwynn. In December last year the GMC took the decision not to strike him from the medical register, finding that his fitness to practise was not impaired.
The GMC did find, however, that there were serious breaches of Mr Gwynn's duties as a medical practitioner and serious breaches of the principles of good medical practice which amounted to misconduct in three separate cases.
The hearing, which originally opened in October 2007 considered charges of misconduct and deficient professional performance against Mr Gwynn. Initially, the GMC was asked to consider the evidence of 11 complainants but following a Judicial Review, the panel was ordered to discount the evidence of five former patients due to time limitations.
Mr Gwynn was first ordered to appear before the GMC’s Interim Orders Panel (IOP), in November 2005 and at that time an 18-month ban was imposed preventing him from carrying out breast surgery in any NHS or private practise.
Mr Gwynn’s errors first came to light in March 2003 when Tracy Todd, a 39 year-old supermarket assistant and mother of three from Cannock, Staffordshire, sued the surgeon after her breast reduction operation in September 2002 left her with ‘horrific’ wounds, putting her health at risk with infections, and leaving her with misshapen breasts of different sizes.
Mrs Todd had been left so badly injured that she was referred to an NHS plastic surgeon for corrective surgery. She required further surgery in November 2002 and again in March 2003.
Mr Gwynn was reported to the GMC by Irwin Mitchell solicitors who have successfully brought a number of separate cases for negligence against the surgeon who operated both privately at Rowley Hall Hospital in Stafford and also with the NHS at Stafford General Hospital.
Ally Taft, solicitor at the Midlands’ offices of Irwin Mitchell, who represents Tracey Todd, said: “As a direct result of publicity surrounding Tracy’s case, I was contacted by a further 17 women, all of whom had suffered very poor outcomes following operations performed by Mr Gwynn. I have been instructed to pursue cases for negligence for 12 of the women, five of which have already successfully settled out of court.
“As a clinical negligence solicitor I am accustomed to seeing many cases in which claims arise due to one-off errors of judgement or system failures not entirely of an individual clinician’s making. I rarely feel the need to involve the GMC in any of my cases. However, with these particular cases such was the extent of my clients’ injuries - and my concern that these women were only the tip of the iceberg - that I took the decision to report Mr Gwynn’s practices to the GMC’s Fitness to Practice Directorate.
“Following the initial six-week hearing in 2005, followed by a second three-week hearing earlier this year, we hoped that this final four-week hearing would bring the matter to a conclusion and offer closure for all those affected.
“My clients were very disappointed by the decision that Mr Gwynn was found fit to practice despite the misconduct and serious breaches identified. However, today’s decision by the GMC means that Mr Gwynn will not be able to return to his breast surgery practice and this was always my clients’ wish in order to prevent other patients being at possible risk of injury.”
Commenting on today’s decision by the GMC, Mrs Todd said: “As a result of Mr Gwynn’s errors I have been left scarred for life. Further surgery has been recommended but I just cannot face the prospect.
“Mr Gwynn has never apologised to me, even though I succeeded in my legal action for negligence and the GMC agreed that he had committed serious professional misconduct.“As for the GMC’s investigation, it has dragged on for nearly four years and in my view the money could have been better spent on re-training this surgeon. I am so relieved that he will not be carrying out any more breast surgery and this is what I set out to achieve 6 years ago when I first sought advice from Irwin Mitchell.”