The former owners of a private hospital where hip surgeon Derek McMinn carried out thousands of operations on patients was only told about concerns he was hoarding bones and tissue without proper permission last week – a year after an internal investigation suggested they should be told.
Nuffield Health, which runs more than 30 hospitals, told The Independent it was unaware of any issues related to Prof McMinn until reports of his alleged behaviour last week.
The company owned the Edgbaston Hospital site until February 2008, after which it was run by BMI Healthcare, which has been accused of covering up what happened to McMinn’s patients.
An internal investigation leaked to The Independent and completed in October 2019 said that Prof McMinn had admitted collecting bones and tissue from thousands of his patients over a 25 year period without a license from the Human Tissue Authority or written consent from patients.
Among the recommendations made by the internal investigation was a suggestion to inform Nuffield Health and Spire Healthcare – whose patients McMinn operated on.
Both companies have said they were not informed by BMI Healthcare.
As well as collecting bones, Prof McMinn has also been criticised in a second internal report that revealed some patients may have been put at risk because they were sedated longer than necessary to allow him to run two operating theatres at the same time.
Two NHS anaesthetists Dr Imran Ahmed and Dr Guahar Sharih are also under investigation by the General Medical Council after the expert report said they sedated patients to such a degree their blood pressure was dangerously low and left them at risk of brain damage.
Ollie Dewis, whose father William, from Burntwood in Staffordshire, had hip surgery with Prof McMinn in 1999 as an NHS patient, said it was “unbelievable” that BMI Healthcare had not informed Nuffield Health.
She said: “I’ve been warned that the hospital records may not be available given the eight year rule for storing them. Many affected patients won’t be informed about this by the hospital as their surgery records may have been destroyed.
“This is a police matter now and everyone deserves fair scrutiny, but to all those saying it’s just ‘bone and cartilage tissue’, I say this is about the principle of medical consent which should underpin all medical procedures.”
A Nuffield Health spokesperson said: “We will support the ongoing investigation by the GMC and BMI Healthcare on the allegations against Derek McMinn, a former consultant who worked at Edgbaston Hospital which was owned by Nuffield Health until 1 February 2008.
“The care of our patients is our number one priority and we understand these allegations may be distressing for Prof McMinn’s former patients and their relatives.”
The company said it had now launched a helpline for patients to contact the company with any concerns about the care they may have received up to February 2008.
The spokesperson added: “If any information concerning individuals that relates to patient harm is identified as the criminal investigation progresses, we will respond to the people concerned and provide any support they need.”
The lack of sharing of information between private hospitals and the NHS over concerns about safety was a major feature in the failures that allowed rogue breast surgeon Ian Paterson to continue to carry out needless operations on women for more than a decade.
BMI Healthcare said it met with local NHS trusts last year and informed them of concerns about Derek McMinn. But University Hospitals Birmingham Foundation Trust said it had still yet to see the expert report about the surgical practices and was not informed directly by BMI Healthcare over concerns about patients low blood pressure sedation.
Prof McMinn was suspended in August 2019 after the Care Quality Commission raised concerns and he admitted to hospital bosses he did not have a license from the Human Tissue Authority.
The HTA said a referral for an alleged breach of the Human Tissue Act had been made to West Mercia Police.
Patients who want to contact Nuffield Health’s helpline should call 020 7935 0894.
A separate helpline for BMI Healthcare patients has been set up on 0800 096 2254.
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