East Surrey Hospital apology over care of cancer patients

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Media caption,
Des Holden, East Surrey Hospital: There are 27 patients where we feel harm occurred

A health trust has apologised to cancer patients treated by a consultant who was later sacked, saying his treatment "resulted in your harm".

Letters have been sent to 27 prostate and bladder cancer patients seen by Paul Miller at East Surrey Hospital between 2006 and last December.

Five patients later died, but the trust said "it wouldn't be correct" to connect the deaths to their treatment.

Mr Miller has described his dismissal as "unjustified".

'Extremely disappointed'

The consultant was suspended before being sacked after an internal investigation.

He is now the subject to a formal investigation by the General Medical Council (GMC).

"I am extremely disappointed that the trust has decided to dismiss me," he said.

"I strongly do not believe that this is justified. I welcome the opportunity to co-operate with any investigation into my practice.

"My priority as a consultant for the last 21 years has always been to protect patients' best interests and safety. I cannot comment further due to my duty of patient confidentiality."

Complaints were initially received by the trust in November last year.

In a statement, the trust said based upon each patient's clinical history, an external panel of consultant urologists "found that 27 patients came to harm because of the treatment they received under the former trust urologist's care".

Treatment 'not definitive'

Des Holden, the trust's medical director, said the affected patients had been left with a higher chance of the cancer returning.

"The initial treatments that were offered to them, they perhaps weren't given the whole range of treatments option and they really weren't told - our external reviewers tell us - they weren't told the full kind of consequences of the choices they were making, so some did not receive definitive treatment," he said.

The trust said that in addition to the 27 cases, the care of a small number of patients "fell below the standards we would expect".

It said the experts felt they had not been harmed as a consequence.

There were no concerns about the care received by the remaining patients, it added.

The trust said it had conducted an "open and transparent investigation".

'Compensation considered'

Mr Holden said: "On behalf of the trust, I apologise unreservedly for the errors in these patients' treatment.

"I acknowledge and appreciate that the outcome of the clinical review and the content of the letters will be deeply distressing to our patients and their families and I am very sorry."

He said the trust had written to the 27 patients and their families "to enable compensation to be considered and paid".

It has set up a helpline and has urged patients and their families to call if they have any concerns.

Mr Miller also worked at Spire Gatwick Park Hospital in Horley, Surrey.

Its director, John Crisp, said: "Spire suspended Mr Miller in December 2013 as soon as the trust notified us of their investigation into Mr Miller and he has not undertaken any surgery or held clinics at our hospital since."

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