Patients in 'Botched' Ops Scandal

South Wales Echo (Cardiff, Wales), January 31, 2007 | Go to article overview

Patients in 'Botched' Ops Scandal


Byline: By Greg Tindle South Wales Echo

Hundreds of patients are being called back into hospital after fears that operations carried out by foreign surgeons could have been botched.

Up to 700 patients, mainly from the Cardiff area, will receive check-ups after some reported complications following their knee and hip surgery. This includes reports that some replacement joints were not fitted correctly.

The operations were carried out at the Weston Treatment Centre in Somerset in the past two years.

Reports that some were suffering from pain and swelling and discomfort soon after their surgery have been emerging.

Experts have been called in to carry out an investigation and confirmed there was an unacceptably high level of problems.

Hospital managers in Cardiff have contacted all patients who were treated at Weston by Swedish surgeons and have invited them for a check-up which will include an X-ray on their joints. Check-up offer to all patients who had ops: Nearly 700 patients were today at the centre of a massive waiting list scandal amid fears that their operations could have been bungled by foreign surgeons.

And it is feared that the situation could cost millions of pounds to put right. The mainly elderly patients from Cardiff and surrounding areas, had opted to receive treatment in England to avoid a longer wait for surgery in South Wales.

Their operations were largely hip and knee replacements and all have now been told the surgery needs to be checked after some reported complications including joint pain and swellings. A total of 20 patients have so far reported problems.

The patients were all treated by Swedish surgeons being used at the Weston NHS Treatment Centre in Weston-super-Mare, Somerset.

The centre was used as part of the Welsh Assembly Government's Second Offer scheme aimed at bringing down orthopaedic waiting lists. The contract with Weston has now been stopped. All who received treatment are now being contacted by the Cardiff and Vale NHS Trust and invited for a detailed check-up at a cost of pounds 100 a time.

The first indications that there was a problem with patients started 12 months after the Weston Centre started to accept patients.

A drip feed of complaints started but it was only when Cardiff surgeons compared notes that the alarm bells started to ring and Weston was identified as the common denominator. One of the problems identified was that knee replacement joints had been wrongly fitted.

At the end of 2004, top Cardiff surgeon David Shewring caused controversy by writing a letter warning patients not to be treated by the foreign doctors.

He sent letters to his patients claiming doctors from abroad working in England may not be skilled enough to carry out operations.

The result caused mayhem and the majority, some already waiting for more than a year for surgery, cancelled their appointments for early treatment. Independent experts from the British Orthopaedic Association were called in and they confirmed the Cardiff surgeons' worries.

Although hip and knee replacements are the main category, other patients who received shoulder or wrist operations are also being invited to have their surgery checked.

Apart from the cost of carrying out the new surgery, the Echo understands that legal action against the Weston Centre is a likelihood.

Ian Lane, medical director at Cardiff and Vale NHS Trust said: 'At the request of the Welsh Assembly Government's Second Offer Team, our Trust is offering a check-up to all patients who received orthopaedic treatment at Weston.

'This follows an independent review of knee surgery at Weston by the British Orthopaedic Association, which found a higher number of complications with total knee replacements than would normally be expected. Our priority is to respond quickly and effectively to the needs of the patients involved. …

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