Hundreds of patients recalled over unnecessary operation fears

24 January 2020, 16:02 | Updated: 25 January 2020, 00:56

More than 200 patients have been recalled amid concerns a consultant surgeon has been carrying out unnecessary operations at a private hospital in the West Midlands.

Spire Healthcare has confirmed that 217 patients who were treated by consultant orthopaedic surgeon Habib Rahman at the Spire Parkway hospital in Solihull have been contacted and offered a consultation to review their care.

The Spire Parkway was one of the hospitals where disgraced breast surgeon Ian Paterson worked. He was jailed for 20 years in 2017 for wounding patients after carrying out unnecessary operations. It is thought more than 900 patients could have been affected.

Mr Rahman is currently being investigated by the General Medical Council. At present he must be supervised and he can only work at University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust.

The Trust told Sky News that Mr Rahman was working with "restrictions" and that none of his NHS patients had been recalled. He is working at Heartlands Hospital and Solihull Hospital.

The investigation into him came to light after a 52-year-old patient from Solihull, who does not want to be named, received a letter last month inviting her to a meeting at the hospital.

She underwent two shoulder manipulation procedures under general anaesthetic in 2017 after suffering from pain in her shoulder and developing carpal tunnel syndrome. Neither of the operations was successful.

At the meeting, she says she was told by a different orthopaedic surgeon and a nurse adviser that both procedures had been unnecessary and her care should have been undertaken in the outpatients department.

"Not only was I told my surgeries were unnecessary, but that the type of surgery I'd received from Mr Rahman wasn't his specialist field," she said.

"I was referred to Spire through the NHS so while I haven't wasted any of my own money, there's been a cost to the NHS and there may be other individuals who have spent their hard-earned income believing they would receive a certain standard of care if they opted for private treatment."

She added: "When I was invited in for the assessment, I asked Spire outright if they were trying to 'get on top' of this issue because of Paterson, and the person that I spoke to admitted it was."

Under the care of a new consultant, she had an arthroscopy for her shoulder and corrective surgery on her carpal tunnel.

"I trusted him," she said. "He was dressed smartly and was very charming. I had no reason to doubt anything he said."

Linda Millband from Thompsons Solicitors, who is representing the woman, said: "A second patient recall and another rogue surgeon operating unnecessarily at Mr Paterson's old private hospital suggests systemic failings.

"We are aware of this issue because, on receiving a recall letter, an ex-patient connected the dots between Spire, Paterson and our role in bringing him to justice, and reached out to us for advice.

"There is no evidence that Spire has publicly acknowledged the recall on its website."

She continued: "We currently have a handful of clients but they could be the tip of the iceberg, so we encourage others who feel they have received similar unnecessary care from Habib Rahman or indeed any other surgeon at a Spire hospital to come forward."

A spokesman for Spire Healthcare said: "In accordance with our strict patient safety standards, we first restricted Mr Rahman's shoulder practice in September 2018, before suspending his full Practising Privileges in January 2019 and subsequently withdrawing them in May 2019.

"During that period, we invited the Royal College of Surgeons to independently review Mr Rahman's practice, liaising closely with his employing NHS Trust, the CQC and GMC on the output of that review.

"Following the Royal College's guidance, we wrote to all shoulder patients who were identified as requiring follow-up to offer them a consultation with an independent surgeon to review their care and to understand more about their post-operative recovery. That process is still ongoing.

"We would encourage patients who have received a letter to follow-up on our offer of a free review by an independent specialist to ensure their care has been as expected."

Sky News asked the NHS hospital trust where Mr Rahman works whether they would comment on his behalf.

They sent us this statement: "We can confirm that Mr Habib Rahman is employed by University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust and has, since July 2019, been working with interim restrictions as per the conditions on his GMC registration.

"The Trust has not recalled any of his NHS patients."