Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust faces burns fine

Mike Wilcock Image copyright BBC news grab
Image caption Mike Wilcock said is injuries had "significantly" affected his life

A Kent hospital trust is facing a large fine after a patient suffered "life-changing" burns during an operation.

Mike Wilcock, 58, needed a skin graft on third-degree burns to his buttock and hip after the removal of a cyst on his kidney at Maidstone Hospital.

The Inner London Crown Court heard his injuries were caused by a warming blanket known as a "hot dog".

Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust admitted failing in its duty to ensure the safety of a patient.

Prosecutor William Davis told the court Mr Wilcock had gone through a "stressful and painful experience" since the procedure in September 2012.

'Pain and discomfort'

The blanket is used on patients during surgery, and the court heard the temperature of the warming equipment had soared during Mr Wilcock's operation because a cold saline bag was touching a sensor.

No alarm was raised and his injuries were only discovered when Mr Wilcock woke up.

The hearing was told that since the incident he had also developed cardiac problems.

It also heard the hospital trust had committed eight breaches of duty over 17 months after first acquiring the equipment in April 2011.

Image copyright BBC news grab
Image caption Mike Wilcock needed a skin graft on third-degree burns to his buttock and hip

They included failing to provide adequate training and not properly investigating two previous incidents, including one patient who received minor burns.

Mr Wilcock, who works for the Health and Safety Executive, is now pursuing a civil claim.

The trust's medical director Dr Paul Sigston publicly apologised to him and his wife when he appeared in the witness box.

"I'm deeply sorry this event occurred.

"I'm aware of the harm and stress impacted on their lives," he said.

'Scarred for life'

Speaking afterwards, Mr Wilcock, from Tunbridge Wells, said his injuries had "significantly" affected his life.

"I have scars that will last for the rest of my life, causing pain and discomfort.

"This equipment is used in lots of hospitals. That worries me," he said.

Mr Wilcock added: "If I had been a child or a vulnerable older adult, we could have been talking about a death because of the seriousness of the burn."

Malcolm Fortune QC, representing the trust, said the introduction of the equipment - which is no longer used by the trust - would have saved it £250,000 over five years but he denied it was brought in as a "cost-cutting exercise".

Mr Justice Sweeney said he would determine the amount the hospital will pay at Maidstone Crown Court next Thursday.

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