Charm that kept consultant out of trouble
FOR many in the medical profession it is their technical expertise which is the key to their success.
For Rob Jones it would appear that it was his charm which ensured that his career as a consultant in gynaecology and obstetrics at Royal Cornwall Hospitals stretched over almost 20 years.
Over his time at the Truro hospital there was a catalogue of complaints and concerns raised about him from staff, colleagues and patients.
However, as a review revealed this week, he was able to charm his way out of any problems with the senior management at the trust.
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The reports have found that the response to complaints and concerns was "less than adequate" and that advice which was given was "not followed".
It found that the medical director in charge at the time of one investigation in 2008 had been "charmed and disarmed" by Jones who persuaded them that appropriate action had been taken.
Concerns about his practice stretched back to 1997 – in relation to patients operated on at the Duchy Hospital. But the review states: "There is no documentation available to evidence that this investigation was undertaken."
The next note is dated June 1998 when the same colleague raised concerns about urological complications experienced by Mr Jones's patients – again the review says that the documents relating to the case are not available.
More complaints are recorded in 2000, 2001, 2005 and then the 2007 investigation.
Despite all of these complaints Mr Jones was allowed to continue to practise. No complaints were raised formally between June 2008 and March 2009 and then in January 2010 there was a serious untoward incident (SUI).
This concerned a decision made by Mr Jones to send a patient home and he admitted he "is open to criticism for this decision" – he voluntarily withdrew from obstetric practice while an investigation was carried out.
This investigation, the report states, acted as a catalyst for other areas of concern to be highlighted – but despite this the evidence was said to be "scanty".
A review of the SUI in February 2010 found the medical director accepting Mr Jones's comment that there may have been an "error of judgement" but did not agree there were concerns over his obstetric practice and he was allowed to return to work.
The independent review found that there was still a high level of concern regarding Mr Jones's practice in June 2010 and that the divisional director met with him to discuss some specific cases.
In March 2011 concerns were raised about a "sequence of events" over a weekend with concerns about the care of several patients on the labour ward. The matter was dealt with informally with no documentation.
More concerns were raised in August and September 2011. This led to the chief executive being contacted in October 2011 which triggered a full investigation and Mr Jones being restricted to outpatient work only.
A further letter received in November 2011 raised concerns about a patient seen by Mr Jones at his clinic in St Austell.
It was only after the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists published its report in May 2012 that a decision was made that Jones could not return to his post. He retired in September 2012.