Anguish for 70 Royal Cornwall Hospital patients
More than 70 women have suffered the anguish of being recalled for further assessment, as part of an investigation into treatment given by a former hospital consultant.
Last November, the Royal Cornwall Hospital Trust (RCHT) launched an enquiry into obstetrician Kenneth Jones, known as Rob, amid allegations of failure to follow surgical guidelines.
As a result, more than 1,400 gynaecological patients he had treated in the previous two-and-half years were contacted by the hospital.
Mr Jones, who hit the headlines in 2010 when he helped deliver Prime Minister David Cameron's baby, was subsequently revealed to have been at the centre of longstanding concerns.
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An independent review of how these were dealt with by his bosses has now been delivered to the RCHT and will be discussed behind closed doors in the private section of next week's board meeting, ahead of being released next month.
However, the Western Morning News has learned the extent of the potential heartache caused by the consultant who, according to a probe by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOB), made "bizarre decisions" and was "difficult to challenge".
In total, the notes of more than 1,400 former patients were scrutinised and in 5% of cases, or just over 70 women, concerns were sufficient that further assessment was ordered. However, the RCHT stress that this does not mean all those women will need treatment.
A lawyer representing a group of women considering legal action against the Truro-based trust said they had suffered and deserved full disclosure of all enquiries.
Julie Lewis, a partner and medical law expert at Irwin Mitchell's South West office, said the report had many tough questions to answer.
"The women have been put through hell as more reports have emerged regarding Mr Jones' conduct and they want and deserve answers now so they can begin to come to terms with what has happened."
South African-born Mr Jones was an employee at the RCHT for a decade and had been at the centre of a number of previous reviews into his practice.
In its report, the RCOB criticised RCHT for "disappointingly" failing to tackle concerns about him which had been mounting for years.
The trust finally took action in October last year on the heels of fears raised by a senior member of staff.
Mr Jones' practice was restricted to out-patients and an internal investigation undertaken. A short time later, hospital chiefs wrote to former patients, opened a helpline and publicly admitted that they were aware issues had been raised about the consultant over a number of years.
Miss Lewis said the report must answer why it took RCHT so long to restrict Mr Jones "despite (previously) reviews being carried out during this time by the trust after concerns were expressed about his work".
She claimed: "This is nothing short of appalling. Patients need to know now why he was not stopped by the trust from performing surgery sooner and how concerns about his work were allowed to go unnoticed and unregulated for so long.
"We remain deeply concerned to hear that over 1,500 women could be potentially affected and urge anyone concerned to call the help line number as soon as possible."
The number 0800 180 4514 will be available from 8am to 8pm from Monday to Friday.
Mr Jones, who has removed himself from the medical register, is represented by the Medical Defence Union. It declined to comment when contacted by the WMN, citing patient confidentiality.
Meanwhile, the trust rejects allegations that problems surrounding Mr Jones had gone unnoticed and unregulated, saying its action proves the contrary. Chief executive Lezli Boswell confirmed the independent external organisational learning review, which examines whether the trust acted robustly, had been concluded.
"The board is expected to consider the findings at its next board meeting scheduled for 31 January 2013."
Mrs Boswell added that the independent case note review relating to patients under the care of Mr Jones' care, was continuing.