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Medical Law Experts Call For Public Inquiry Into Royal Cornwall Surgeons Work

Mum Of Cervical Cancer Victim Says Independent Inquiry Is Only Way To Provide Answers To Women Concerned


A mum who has dedicated her life to raising awareness about the importance of the early detection of cervical cancer after her daughter died of the disease is backing calls from medical lawyers for a full Public Inquiry to provide answers as to why hundreds of women are being recalled after receiving treatment by the same surgeon.

Law firm Irwin Mitchell has a team of specialist lawyers in the South West acting in relation to the case of Gynaecologist Rob Jones’ surgery at Treliske Hospital in Truro as far back as 2000 – 12 years before he was suspended in May this year by the General Medical Council (GMC).

The NHS Trust has recently confirmed that it is writing to 1,500 patients asking them to seek medical attention to have their treatment reviewed and revealed 42 women have now been seen in clinics and more than 180 patients have contacted the helpline. The Trust is also investigating how previous complaints about the surgeon were handled.

Experts at Irwin Mitchell, backed by Crowlas mum Sandra Cousins whose daughter, Mercedes Curnow, died of cervical cancer last year, are urging anyone concerned to contact the specialist hotline number that has been set up immediately. They are also now writing to local MPs to request an independent Public Inquiry as they say it is essential to find out exactly how the treatment of so many patients over so many years could be called into question despite numerous reviews of Dr Rob Jones’ work.

A report from the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists contains a number of serious concerns about Dr Jones, who delivered the Prime Minister’s youngest daughter in 2010, including:
• His failure to carry out biopsies on women who had been referred to him due to potentially cancerous smear tests
• Why he had a higher complication rate than the national average for gynaecological surgery resulting in patients frequently having to return to theatre
• Concerns over his use of guidelines and note-taking

The report also raises concerns about the way the Royal Cornwall Hospital Trust (RCHT) managed the situation.

Irwin Mitchell is representing patients across the country who have been affected by alleged negligent surgery. These include those treated by Dr Manjit Bhamra in South Yorkshire, Dr Ian Paterson in the Midlands, the Mid Staffordshire Inquiry and now Dr Rob Jones. Over 3,500 patients are affected by these cases alone.

Julie Lewis, a Partner and medical law expert at Irwin Mitchell, said: “We are deeply concerned to hear that over 1,500 women could be potentially affected after being treated by Dr Rob Jones and urge anyone affected to call the help line number as soon as possible so they can be given further treatment if necessary.

“What is particularly staggering is that is appears there were multiple opportunities to put a stop to it – the trust admits eight reviews were carried out before he was suspended.

“We are also concerned that, because Dr Jones has retired since his suspension by the GMC, he is no longer subject to a General Medical Council investigation. This is precisely why there needs to be a Public Inquiry as it is the only way patients will get reassurance that someone is held accountable for the mistakes made during their care so that lessons can be learnt to prevent such a large-scale investigation from happening again.

“It is positive that the Trust is writing to all the women they believe may need medical treatment and positive that it has committed to reviewing not only the treatment of the people affected but also why there was not earlier action, but this needs to be done quickly and openly. Every patient has a right to know what happened and why, and they should not have to wait for it.”

Irwin Mitchell said a Public Inquiry would provide answers for the victims and ensure that any systematic failures which allowed Dr Jones to carry on practising are indentified and improved immediately.

Lewis added: “In each of the large-scale medical negligence cases we represent patients from, there are multiple, serious questions about exactly what went wrong over a period of serious systematic failings. We believe a number of hospital staff must have known what was happening and a full independent inquiry is needed to get to the bottom of it.”

Sandra Cousins, whose 23-year-old daughter Mercedes died of cervical cancer in December last year because doctors failed to diagnose her symptoms as the killer disease until it was too late has backed the approach from Irwin Mitchell.. She instructed medical law experts at Irwin Mitchell who are investigating Mercedes’ death and the firm supports her campaign, the Mercedes Curnow Foundation, for the early detection of cervical cancer.

Sandra said: “It is appalling that so many women have potentially been put in danger and it is vital any women who were treated by Rob Jones call the hotline number that has been set up immediately.

“I am shocked to hear that in the report by the Royal College of Gynaecologists the surgeon seems to have failed to investigate when women were sent to him with abnormal smear test results

“I know only too well the huge risks women face if cervical cancer is left undetected and untreated and it sickens me that in this day and age, when the technology is there to help women beat the disease, that many are battling for their lives unnecessarily.

“I’m determined Mercedes’ death will not be in vain and have set up the foundation to teach women the symptoms of cervical cancer and the importance of getting checked. This is why I am backing Irwin Mitchell’s call for a public inquiry. The women affected need answers about what has gone wrong and I want to do everything I can to stop others losing their lives to cervical cancer when early detection could have saved them.”

The helpline for patients with concerns over treatment by Rob Jones is 0800 180 4514.

More information about the Mercedes Curnow Foundation can be found at http://www.mercedescurnowfoundation.com/