'We let patients down' says Cornwall Hospital Trust boss
A litany of missed opportunities was revealed by a Cornish hospital yesterday where a consultant subject to eight reviews and numerous complaints was allowed to continue working.
Consultant obstetrician Kenneth, known as Rob, Jones delivered the Prime Minister' David Cameron's baby daughter Florence in August 2010 at the Royal Cornwall Hospital Trust (RCHT) in Truro.
But by then he had been the subject of clinical concerns stretching back three years, a nurse's complaint highlighting 15 cases and a national assessment service summary which noted "there appears to be a long history of problems with the doctor".
Yesterday, the RCHT published five independent reports into its obstetric and gynaecology service which revealed 57 of Mr Jones' patients were recalled for further assessment and 52 experienced complications.
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Julie Acred, who examined how RCHT dealt with the consultant, said the trust's response had been lacking. "I did not find any evidence that the trust ignored or failed to respond," she said. "My recommendations are around the robustness of the response."
But, she added: "They might have done more."
The lengthy set of reports, which cover the current safety of the service as well as the response to Mr Jones' practice, cites "weaknesses in communication" and "evident confusion" about who should take action.
Mr Jones was appointed in 1992 and the first note on file regarding clinical concerns was made in 1997 with an investigation said to be under way, although there is no proof it took place.
In 1998 concerns were raised and again in 2000 after two patients who "had received injuries during elective surgery" wrote to the then medical director.
In 2001, a complaint by a nurse highlighted 15 cases, with a subsequent report delivering the verdict that there was "no evidence of incompetence".
The then medical director says that as a result there would be a "full documented audit" of all gynaecology cases, particularly those involving complications. However Ms Acred's report states: "There is no evidence to suggest these actions were completed."
Concerns continued to be raised, including three separate clinical issues in March 2007 and a "serious untoward incident" in January 2010.
The RCHT finally restricted his practice until October 2011, an action that was followed by Mr Jones voluntarily removing himself from the General Medical Council register. In November, 1,500 former patients were contacted by the hospital and offered further assessment.
Lezli Boswell, chief executive of the RCHT, conceded that "patients have been let down."
"We are incredibly sad and very sorry."
Mrs Boswell added the trust was committed to implementing the recommendations made by the independent report.