Derek McMinn: The surgical pioneer facing a scandal

Patients travelled from around the world to receive his pioneering hip treatment

Shaun Lintern
Health Correspondent
Tuesday 29 September 2020 20:11 BST
Renowned surgeon 'hoarded thousands of body parts over 25 years'

Described on his own website as “the father of modern hip resurfacing”, Derek McMinn built a hugely profitable private practice attracting celebrities, politicians and top sports stars to go under his knife.

Football manager Gordon Strachan, X Factor singer Wagner and Australian boxer Anthony Mundine as well as former defence minister Lord Robathan, were among those who looked to McMinn to help ease their suffering. 

Patients travelled from all over the world to have McMinn operate on their hips and knees at Birmingham’s BMI Edgbaston Hospital where he was considered one of the top surgeons and described by one worker as “the goose that laid the golden egg”.

Thousands of patients placed their trust in the 67-year-old surgeon, but today still do not know that their bones may form part of the illicit collection of body parts that it has been claimed McMinn has been amassing for 25 years.

The surgeon, who charged £13,000 for a hip resurfacing operation, claims he had verbal consent to keep the bones of his patients. However, verbal consent is not recognised by the GMC or the Human Tissue Authority without clear documentation and as The Independent has revealed today, an investigation of his conduct found no evidence of any discussions with patients and no suggestion any of them were aware of what he was doing. McMinn had no licence to retain body parts nor any permission to carry out research on bones. Indeed, the investigation could not find any evidence that research had taken place. His collection allegedly included patient notes and X-rays. Former European Open champion golfer Andrew Murray said he had felt McMinn acted in a “really professional way” at the time of his surgery that changed his life 21 years ago, but McMinn had never discussed keeping his bones. If the claims proved to be true, he said he would be “horrendously disappointed”. 

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If you or someone you know has been operated on by Derek McMinn, email

However, former Tory MP Lord Robathan, who had a hip surgery revised by McMinn, was less concerned about the allegations. “Who cares if he has been doing that,” he said. “If he had asked me, I would have said yes. He did a bloody good job on me and is a brilliant surgeon.”

The 67-year-old has been suspended by BMI Healthcare and may face further legal and regulatory action over his conduct. His business, The McMinn Centre, a short drive from the BMI hospital where he worked, is closed and no longer appears to be taking appointments. According to Companies House records, McMinn transferred ownership of the business to his son in August 2019, the same month he was suspended by BMI Healthcare.

But for years it appears he operated with impunity, trading on his reputation, the benefits of his invention and the loyalty of his staff and handpicked theatre team.

McMinn’s seven-bedroom farmhouse in Worcestershire
McMinn’s seven-bedroom farmhouse in Worcestershire (The Independent)

McMinn, who lives in a seven-bedroom farmhouse in Worcestershire with his radiographer wife Melanie, is rumoured to have made millions when he sold the patent for his revolutionary hip resurfacing technique developed in 1997 with fellow surgeon Ronan Treacy.

The surgery is an alternative to total hip replacement and is particularly beneficial for younger, more active patients. Its success delivered superstar status for McMinn who boasts on his McMinn Centre website of travelling the world to speak to doctors’ conferences and training over 500 surgeons.

McMinn, who has also invented a number of implants and techniques for joint surgery, carried out thousands of operations using his hip resurfacing technique and according to the National Joint Registry for England operated on 460 patients at the BMI Edgbaston hospital between April 2016 and March 2019, including 360 hip replacements.  

You have one chance to get it right

Derek McMinn

This was almost half the 769 hip replacements carried out at the hospital over the same period. Sources say he was treated as if the hospital was his, taking over its operating theatres on Tuesdays when he would do his surgeries.

His career began at St Thomas’ Hospital in London in the 1970s before he moved to Birmingham where he worked as an orthopaedic consultant and rose to become director of the Royal Orthopaedic Hospital, one of the largest specialist orthopaedic centres in Europe.

It was here that he developed his interest and expertise in hip and knee replacements and began work with engineers and doctors to perfect his approach that would propel his career to the highest levels.

McMinn declined to comment when approached by The Independent. But in an interview with Orthopaedic Research UK, in February 2019, just a month before the report claims McMinn’s collecting of body parts was uncovered, McMinn stressed the importance of a surgeon’s work.

He said: “When performing an operation, treat the tissues gently and you must never, ever, be in a hurry or allow yourself to get hassled by anyone. You must complete the procedure as perfectly as you would expect if you were the patient having that operation yourself. You have one chance to get it right.”

If you or someone you know has been operated on by Derek McMinn, email

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