RCS Confirms University Of Wales Liver Surgeon Had Eight ‘Avoidable’ Deaths In 20 Months
Expert medical negligence lawyers representing the family of a man whose ‘avoidable’ death was linked to suspended liver surgeon David Paul Berry, have today urged the health board to make the findings of its internal inquiry public, to provide much-needed answers to the affected families.
It follows confirmation from the General Medical Council (GMC) that consultant surgeon David Berry, based at University Hospital Wales, has been banned by the General Medical Council (GMC) from performing any further liver surgery after Cardiff and Vale University Health Board alerted the body following an internal review into complaints about his care.
A subsequent investigation by the Royal College of Surgeons (RCS) of 31 of his patients while with the Cardiff and Vale University Health Board from February 2011, found that 10 went on to die, and ‘eight of those 10 deaths were avoidable’.
Now, a medical law expert at Irwin Mitchell says each of the families affected deserve immediate answers about:
• Whether concerns about Mr David Berry’s surgery techniques had been raised in his previous employment;
• What the specific findings of the health board’s internal review found, and
• What action is being taken by the board to improve patient safety within the department to prevent any further avoidable deaths
Law firm Irwin Mitchell is representing the family of Martyn Rogers who died of blood poisoning and acute liver failure on 25 July last year, a week after undergoing surgery by Mr Berry to remove tumours from his liver.
The RCS declared the 66-year-old’s death ‘avoidable’ in a report that has been released to his partner of 40 years, Maria Davies.
Emma Rush, a specialist medical negligence lawyer at Irwin Mitchell, representing the family said: “We are shocked and deeply concerned to learn of the scale of the number of avoidable deaths linked to Mr Berry’s surgery during his short time at University Hospital Wales.
“Eight avoidable deaths within just 18 months is very concerning and the health board must provide urgent answers to all those affected about how this could have happened.
“Our client Maria, and no doubt the other families who have lost loved ones, now deserve quick and transparent information from the Board about exactly what has gone wrong, how it could go wrong and what action is being taken to protect patient safety and prevent any further avoidable deaths.
“In addition, Mr Berry has worked as a specialist liver surgeon for many years within both the NHS and private sector and these revelations raise obvious questions about the standard of care he was providing to other patients throughout his career.
“We would urge any patients or family members concerned about the treatment given by Mr Berry to call the helpline as quickly as possible.
“We will now continue to work on Maria’s behalf to gain answers about exactly what went wrong in the events leading to Martyn’s death so she can begin to come to terms with her loss.”
Maria, who lives in Newport, added: “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 difficult enough to try and comprehend Martyn’s sudden death was avoidable, but to learn that so many other patients may have been affected and died unnecessarily is appalling and has shocked us to the core.
“I want to know how it was possible for Mr Berry to have such a long career and be classed as a leader in his field, given the RCS report into Martyn’s death suggested poor operative skills were partly to blame – why was this not picked up sooner.
“I’m worried even more patients may not have been given the treatment they deserved and it is simply not fair.
“We will now fight for justice on Martyn’s behalf as we need to get to the bottom of exactly what has gone wrong for him and the other patients whose deaths were avoidable.
“Nothing can bring them back but it will give us a small amount of comfort to have some accountability and know that lessons have been learnt so nobody else has to go through the same ordeal.”
The UHB has set up a helpline for anyone who is concerned about the surgical care they received from David Berry in relation to liver surgery between February 2011 and October 2012. The helpline number is 0800 952 0244 and will be open from noon to 8pm from tomorrow to Friday, December 13.
Read more about Irwin Mitchell's expertise relating to medical negligence claims.