Surgeon tries to block inquiry into operations

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The Independent Online
A SURGEON under investigation for his role in more than 40 allegedly bungled operations and diagnoses has launched a High Court fight to challenge the inquiry.

Christopher Ingoldby, a consultant surgeon based at Pinderfields Hospital, Wakefield, was suspended from his post in January amid claims that his techniques had claimed at least one life and left others needing corrective surgery.

It prompted his employers Pontefract and Pinderfields NHS Trust to commission an independent clinical review by the NHS Executive into the affair which has led to 45 complaints from patients and relatives.

The inquiry was originally due to wind up on July 31 and its report expected this month but now Mr Ingoldby has applied at the High Court for a judicial review, ingquestion the integrity of the inquiry itself.

In effect, the application to the High Court, carries with it undertakings which prevent the preliminary report by the Chief Medical Officer Designate Professor Liam Donaldson from being disseminated to any body other than the Trust and the General Medical Council. It will not now be available to the patients themselves.

The undertakings also prevent any further public statement by the Trust, the inquiry team or Mr Ingoldby himself.

Last night the Wakefield solicitor representing the families, David Russell, threatened to take the complaints direct to the General Medical Council in an attempt to keep the discussion public. Families, he said, were angered by the last minute attempt to quash the eight-month investigation.

He said: "It's incredible that he seeks to injunct the medical inquiry panel so late in the day which will prevent the findings going before the patients who have waited month-on-month for the answers they seek."

The investigation into Mr Ingoldby's work has focused on three of the 45 cases including Susan Wainwright who has already won a six-figure sum from Wakefield Health Authority after a keyhole technique to remove her gall bladder, conducted by Mr Ingoldby, left her with liver damage.

Former Wakefield rugby league player Brian McDermott, 64, bled to death four hours after Mr Ingoldby removed his stomach and spleen. A verdict of misadventure was recorded.

And Trevor Pearson, 62, has been left in need of constant care after his spleen was allegedly torn during bowel cancer surgery.

Mr Ingoldby, who lives in Roundhay, Leeds, has been a surgeon for more than 20 years. He also worked privately until his suspension at the Methley Park BUPA Hospital in Leeds.

He has previously defended his work claiming his death and injury records were "no different from my colleagues".

Mr Ingoldby's solicitors, Le Brasseur J Tickle, of London, refused to discuss the case. But a spokesman for the Medical Protection Society, the medical insurance fund to which Mr Ingoldby subscribes, said: "We do not comment on member's individual cases.

"Our role in all such cases is to ensure that our members get a fair hearing, it would be wrong to prejudge any case before full consideration of the circumstances has taken place."

A spokeswoman for the Northern and Yorkshire NHS Executive said: "As a result of a hearing in the High Court on July 29 the NHS Executive and the individual review panel members will, at this stage, be making no further comment about the progress of the current independent inquiry."