Solicitors criticise Maidstone Hospital after post-surgery deaths

Maidstone Hospital Patients needing upper gastrointestinal surgery are being to St Thomas' Hospital

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Solicitors for the families of cancer patients who died after potentially avoidable surgical complications have criticised Maidstone Hospital for not publishing a report into the cases.

Five patients died between 2012 and 2013 following upper gastrointestinal (GI) surgery at the Kent hospital.

The surgery was later suspended there.

Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust said any allegations of medical negligence had not been proven.

The incidents have been referred to the General Medical Council (GMC) and the trust has conducted its own internal inquiry.

The trust has previously said that "while members of staff have been held to account, their overall standard of practice does not support further sanctions".

The trust, which is now sending patients requiring upper GI surgery to St Thomas' Hospital in central London, has apologised to the families and highlighted the need for improvements to be made.

'Went wrong'

But Thomson Snell & Passmore, which represents a number of patients or their families, has said the trust has turned down its request under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 to disclose the anonymised report produced by the Royal College of Surgeons (RCS).

The report, which was produced at the hospital's request, looked into the practices of the hospital and patient safety, and made recommendations.

Solicitor Sharon Lam said: "We have a significant number of patients who approached us concerning upper GI laparoscopic surgeries that went wrong between 2008 and 2014.

"The period is not just limited to 2012 and 2013 as the hospital has alleged.

"Only by releasing the report would we have some idea of the number of the potential victims.

"The patients and their families have a right to know the outcome of the investigation and whether the surgeons concerned are still practising the same type of surgery privately."

She said the firm was in correspondence with the hospital in the hope of persuading bosses to change their minds.

A trust spokesman said any allegations of medical negligence had not been proven and the RCS report did not raise concerns about the quality of surgical care for the patients before 2012/13.

He said: "We have been consistently clear that we will make the recommendations of the review publicly available once we have met with the families involved and shared these with them.

"This is to give them the time and space to discuss any aspects of their loved ones' care with us first within the context of the report's findings, which are reflected in the recommendations.

"The review of upper GI cancer surgery did not identify wider issues pre-2012-13 and mortality rates for this service were within national levels."

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