Report reveals full extent of failings by surgeon who delivered Camerons’ baby
Jeremy Laurance is a writer on health issues. He is former health editor of The Independent and the i and has covered the specialism for more than 20 years. He thinks the harm medicine does is under-appreciated, the harm it prevents over-rated, and that cycling works better than most drugs. He was named Specialist Journalist of the Year in the 2011 British Press Awards.
Monday 03 December 2012
A maverick surgeon who delivered David and Samantha Cameron's youngest child removed himself from the medical register after an investigation revealed that he botched operations and missed checks on patients with early signs of cancer.
Experts are now reviewing the cases of more than 1,500 women who were in the care of Rob Jones, a consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist who worked for 20 years at the Royal Cornwall Hospitals NHS Trust (RCHT) in Treliske.
A report seen by The Independent found that he had poor surgical skills and failed to follow guidelines, causing injuries to some women and putting others at risk.
He was suspended last May a month after an investigation by a team of experts from the Royal College of Obstetricians revealed there had been long standing worries about his poor standard of surgery – but no one had felt able to confront him.
Among the criticisms of his practice was that he failed to follow national guidelines, even though he was chair of the Trust's guidelines group.
The extent of his alleged errors can be published on the day that a new system of five-yearly checks for all doctors is introduced across the UK to protect patients. The system of checks, known as "revalidation", builds on a series of annual appraisals requiring doctors to demonstrate they are up to date with the latest medical developments and are maintaining their skills. The case of Mr Jones is the latest to demonstrate the need for the checks.
A meeting of the RCHT board last Thursday heard that 210 women had contacted a helpline set up by the hospital in relation to Mr Jones . Of these, 183 had been recalled for checks and 42 had been seen up to 18 November, amid fears that signs of cancer may have been missed or diagnosis and treatment delayed.
A spokeswoman for the Trust declined to reveal the outcome of the checks. A review of how the trust handled the case of Mr Jones is due to be published by the end of the year.
Mr Jones, who moved to Cornwall in 1992 from South Africa, came to national attention two years ago when he delivered the Prime Minister's baby, Florence Cameron, while the family were on holiday in Cornwall in August 2010. The RCOG investigation, seen by this paper, portrays Mr Jones as a man with a big personality who provided the "social cement" in the department of obstetrics but who made "bizarre decisions", was "difficult to challenge" was a "poor communicator" and had "appalling relations" with some staff.
He botched operations, leaving five patients with fistulas – a hole in the wall of the vagina to the bladder or intestine causing urinary or faecal incontinence – when "more than one in a consultant career would be unusual", the report said. Other women had to undergo remedial surgery for bleeding in numbers "considerably in excess of what would be expected for a benign gynaecologist," it said.
The report said he did not follow guidelines, resulting in "adverse outcomes", made "unusual" clinical decisions, kept poor notes, and was "unhelpful" to staff. Mr Jones voluntarily removed his name from the General Medical Council's register in October, ending his medical career and preventing any disciplinary hearing into his fitness to practice.
Mrs Cameron is not among the women contacted by the trust.
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