£5k Fine for Spire Welcomed by Lawyers Acting for Victims of Disgraced Surgeon

10 May 2021

News that Spire Healthcare has been fined £5k after it admitted failing to apologise or disclose details relating to failures in the treatment of patients has today been welcomed by Lawyers acting on behalf of several individuals who were also operated on by disgraced surgeon Michael Walsh.

In the first case of its kind the health watchdog, the Care Quality Commission, took the private healthcare provider to Court after it transpired that they did not tell patients about concerns relating to Mr Walsh until months after they had initially been uncovered.

The challenge was bought by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) amidst concerns that Spire failed to meet its legal obligation to be open and transparent with patients and their loved ones about failings in the care that they received, as part of what is known as Duty of Candour.

Speaking on the matter Sarah Dronsfield, CQC’s head of hospital inspection, said it sends a ‘clear message’ that as the independent regulator of health and social care in England, it will ‘not hesitate’ to act.

In the case of Mr Walsh, the impact of the negligent treatment resulted in the affected individuals undergoing additional remedial surgery and suffering considerable pain.

Today, Lawyers at Simpson Millar welcomed the ‘landmark judgment’ which comes one year after the firm first called on Spire to do more to contact those potentially impacted by the active investigation into the actions of shoulder surgeon Michael Walsh.

The firm has recently settled a case against the private healthcare provider on behalf of one victim who suffers ongoing pain and mobility issues following surgery carried out by Mr Walsh, and is instructed to investigate several other claims against the company regarding unnecessary or inappropriate shoulder procedures, and finger surgery.

The firm’s head of Medical Negligence Geoff Simpson-Scott explains, “A Duty of Candour investigation is intended to provide an open and frank assessment of what happened. Where failings and avoidable harm have occurred, a ‘notifiable safety incident’ is triggered and should be investigated.

“Primarily, this should ensure that lessons are learned, that vital changes in procedures and policies are made, and that patients are notified so that they can receive the emotional and physical care and support that they need as a result of the negligent treatment that they received.

“Failing to comply with the regulations should come with a penalty such as this, and it is heartening to see that a prosecution was brought as it sends a clear message to other healthcare providers – private or otherwise – that the Duty of Candour has teeth.

“We’re currently instructed to act on behalf of several people who have been made aware of the concerns regarding Michael Walsh, and the symptoms described by those individuals are strikingly similar.

“Certainly, in the cases we are now handling the symptoms are very debilitating, and the restriction to movement and pain experienced is having a big impact on our clients lives – both personally, and professionally.

“For those individuals, Spire’s lackadaisical approach to alerting them to the concerns regarding Walsh, and the potential impact that he has had on their recovery and quality of life, has been extremely difficult to come to terms. While the fine of £5k may seem low to those affected it is reassuring to see that action has been taken.”

Simpson Millar is also representing clients who have been recalled for a review of their treatment whilst in the care of once trusted orthopaedic surgeons including Habib Rahman who operated at the Spire Parkway Hospital in Solihull.

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