Breast cancer alert for 40 women as doctor quits

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The Independent Online
A HEALTH TRUST has recalled 40 women for breast checks as a part of a review into the work of a surgeon after the deaths of two of his patients.

David Baumber has now resigned from his job as a consultant surgeon for Bury Healthcare NHS Trust in Greater Manchester.

Mr Baumber had not worked for the Trust since April when a male patient in his 40s, for whose post-operative care he had been responsible, died after general surgery.

Following concerns raised by nursing staff, the case of a second patient under Mr Baumber's care, who had died after general surgery, was re-examined.

The second deceased was a woman in her 60s. Concern was expressed about the level of post-operative care. As a result of the two cases the trust ordered an independent review into Mr Baumber's work atBury General Hospital and at the nearby Fairfield Hospital.

The review criticised the management of post-operative care of both patients but said that it was not clear whether care management had contributed to their deaths.

A spokesman for the trust, which runs both hospitals, said that a further review of more than 600 of Mr Baumber's cases was under way, and a team of health-care experts had been called in to examine 460 breast-work cases in detail. Of those, 40 had been recalled for a mammogram.

A 24-hour helpline had been set up to provide counselling for women treated by Mr Baumber for breast problems.

Hugh Lamont, head of communications for the regional office of the NHS executive, said: "There were criticisms of patient management. The families of the two people and the coroner were kept informed, but the review did not find any cases where the outcome was affected.

"The trust has set up four special clinics and all the women have been contacted. The first nine were all in the clear and the rest are expected to hear today or next week."

Umesh Prabu, medical director of the trust, told The Independent: "The operations were very good, but when the patient developed complications the post-operative care was ill-managed.

"As a surgeon you have two choices: you either observe, or you go in quickly and operate again. It was felt he had not acted quickly enough.

"The review could not say for sure if the surgery would have done anything to alter the prognosis. You can never be absolutely certain."

Mr Prabu would not describe the surgery carried out as this would breach patient confidentiality. But he said that the families of both patients had been fully apprised of the situation.

"We have been very honest with the relatives," he said.

The trust yesterday emphasised that the investigation was only a precautionary measure.

In a statement it said that details would be made public but that its primary concern remained the welfare of the 40 patients.