Scandal-hit hospital recalls patients after concerns about second doctor

Alexandra Topping
Photograph: Facebook

A private hospital at the centre of a breast surgery scandal in which a surgeon was jailed for 20 years has recalled hundreds of patients following concerns about the practices of another senior doctor.

Spire Parkway hospital in the West Midlands has recalled 217 patients who received care from Habib Rahman, a consultant orthopaedic surgeon, following an investigation by the Royal College of Surgeons.

Rahman is still working for the NHS under “interim restrictions” imposed in July, a spokeswoman for the University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust confirmed on Friday. The trust has not recalled any of his NHS patients.

Letters have been sent to Spire Parkway patients who had shoulder manipulation surgery under general anaesthetic, asking them to return to the hospital for an appointment with an independent orthopaedic surgeon to “assess whether their care was appropriate”.

The news of an investigation into another surgeon working at Spire Healthcare comes little more than a week before the findings of an independent inquiry into the rogue breast surgeon Ian Paterson, who operated at Spire Healthcare hospitals across the Midlands.

Paterson was originally jailed for 15 years in 2017 after carrying out “extensive, life-changing operations for no medically justifiable reason”, but the sentence was later increased to 20 years. He was convicted of 17 counts of wounding with intent at Nottingham crown court, relating to nine women and one man, but it is believed his victims numbered in the hundreds. The court heard that in many cases patients were left disfigured and traumatised after they were wrongly told they had cancer.

A former patient of Rahman at Spire Parkway, who did not want to be named, said she was recalled by the hospital in 2019 and told she had undergone two unnecessary surgeries in the space of little over two months.

Rahman performed two shoulder manipulation surgeries on her, which involves stretching and releasing the flexible tissues around the shoulder under general anaesthetic, in June and August 2017.

“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,” said the 52-year-old woman from Solihull.

“I was referred to Spire through the NHS so I while 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: “I trusted him. He was dressed smartly and was very charming. I had no reason to doubt anything he said.”

Spire Healthcare confirmed that Rahman’s shoulder practice had been restricted in September 2018, his practising privileges suspended in January 2019 and removed 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 Care Quality Commission and General Medical Council on the output of that review,” said a spokesman for Spire Healthcare.

“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.”

Thompsons Solicitors, which acted on behalf of many of Paterson’s victims, said they were now acting on behalf of one of Rahman’s former patients, and had received other inquiries from former patients.

“A second patient recall and another rogue surgeon operating unnecessarily at Mr Paterson’s old private hospital suggests systemic failings,” said Linda Millband, the medical negligence lead at Thompsons.

The patients who have sought legal advice from Thompsons were referred to Spire from the NHS, but private patients may also be affected, she said.

“Whether [patients] reached Spire through the NHS or privately we are committed through our Patients Before Profit campaign to expose poor patient treatment at private hospitals and are determined that Spire do not get away with brushing yet another recall under what must be a pretty big carpet by now.”

A spokeswoman for the University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust said: “We can confirm that Mr Habib Rahman is employed by University Hospitals 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.”