Hospital chiefs face calls for an inquiry after claims they ignored repeated warnings about the competence of a paediatric surgeon found guilty of misconduct.
Dr Pierina Kapur, 43, faces being struck-off this week after a General Medical Council panel heard how she removed 90 per cent of a seven-week-old baby girl's bladder – mistaking it for a hernia during an operation at Manchester Children's Hospital in 2008. The panel concluded that her conduct was so poor it went "beyond mere negligence" and rejected claims she was a competent and safe surgeon.
Documents seen by The Independent on Sunday show that several of Dr Kapur's colleagues alerted senior hospital staff at Alder Hey, in Liverpool, and Manchester children's hospitals about her abilities to operate safely as early as 2005. This included the case of Logan Cockcroft, six, who nearly died after a routine stomach operation was botched. Dr Kapur went on to qualify as a consultant in 2006.
The claims will add to mounting concerns that patient safety is being dismissed or ignored by health officials. Next week, Parliament will debate a Private Member's Bill to strengthen protection for NHS whistleblowers. The NHS Public Interest Disclosure Support Bill calls for the introduction of independent support officers to whom whistleblowers can speak anonymously without fear of reprisals or being ignored.
Last year MPs heard that staff concerns at Mid Staffs Hospital, where up to 1,200 patients died because of poor care, were ignored by hospital managers.
"We need to find out why nothing was done about these complaints so we can stop concerns about patient safety being sat on," said Dr Richard Taylor, an independent MP who introduced the bill.
Logan Cockcroft, from Burnley, almost died when Dr Kapur failed to notice she had skewered his colon while inserting a feeding tube into his stomach. The life-threatening mistake was discovered 10 months later by a surgeon at Alder Hey after Logan's weight dropped to 12lbs and his mother, Jill, insisted on a second opinion. She has referred his case to the GMC.
Alder Hey hospital, where Dr Kapur was a trainee, says it has "no record" of any complaints against her. Central Manchester University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust was unable to confirm any prior complaints about Dr Kapur.
Dr Mark Porter, the chairman of the British Medical Association's consultants committee, said: "A situation in which people feel scared to speak out, or do not have confidence their concerns will be taken seriously, is unacceptable, and potentially dangerous."Reuse content