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Legal claims mount over surgeon struck off earlier this year


Former patients of a surgeon who has been struck off say their lives have been ruined by his misconduct.

The number of people harmed by Jeremy Parker, who is understood to have retired, is unknown but at least 123 are taking legal action.

Mr Parker, who left East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Trust (ESNEFT) in 2019, declined to comment when contacted by the BBC through the Medical Protection Society.

The Medical Practitioner's Tribunal ruled that he should be erased from the medical register. A total of 53 allegations against him were found "proved" including dishonestly adding to the case notes of 14 patients, botching operations, not diagnosing infections, failing to consult colleagues and not obtaining patient consent.

The General Medical Council also confirmed a patient had a leg amputated below the right knee after a procedure carried out by Mr Parker went awry.

ESNEFT said it had carried out its own internal investigation but did not respond when asked if it had undertaken a recall.

The trust invited the Royal College of Surgeons to conduct what is known as an "invited review" into Mr Parker's practices in 2019 but would not share its report.

However, the BBC says that it has seen correspondence that states the review found serious concerns, including an increase in complication rates following operations he had carried out and that he had a lower threshold for offering surgical treatment.

It also referred to a report into Mr Parker by the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman from 2012 that found inadequacies in documentation, patient consent and assessments

One patient, Julieann Cobbold was operated on by Mr Parker in 2012. He diagnosed her as having arthritis in the left knee and replaced it. She said she was left in "terrible pain" after the operation.

An independent orthopaedic specialist said the surgery was not necessary and that the arthritis was in her right knee, which now needs replacing.

ESNEFT disputed this but settled with Ms Cobbold after admitting she had not been consulted properly about her treatment options and that Parker had failed to obtain informed consent.

She now has difficulty walking. Ms Cobbold said: "I ended up getting a wheelchair and it's got to the stage that the highlight of my week is going into Tesco's in the wheelchair. We don't go out anywhere. I feel really angry that he thinks he can do that to people and ruin their lives. I put my life and trust in his hands and he's totally let me down."

Archived data from The National Joint Registry, "which records, monitors, analyses and reports on performance outcomes in joint replacement surgery" shows Mr Parker was performing far more operations than his colleagues.

The Registry figures reveal Mr Parker carried out 705 procedures between April 2017 and March 2020, more than double the national average.

Another patient, Tania Walton, from Colchester is taking legal action against ESNEFT after Mr Parker replaced her right knee in September 2017 and her left knee in January 2019.

She says she is in constant pain and now relies on opiates to get through the day. Mrs Walton said that, after the first operation, her knee became infected and she needed two blood transfusions.

She said: "I was losing blood, had low blood pressure, feeling dreadful and in so much pain. I can't bend my left knee. I'm not the person I was. I'm 50 years old and I have a disability badge. I struggle with my children, I don't have hobbies, and I don't enjoy things. My quality of life is pretty poor now. I was very active before. Every aspect of my life is affected by this."

Questions remain about how Mr Parker was able to carry out 33 operations in breach of restrictions placed on his practice in October 2018 by ESNEFT following the review by the Royal College of Surgeons. The procedures were carried out at the private Oaks Hospital, Colchester, where the restrictions had also been imposed.

Chief executive of patient safety charity Action Against Medical Accidents, Paul Whiteing said many questions unanswered "about how it came to pass that having placed clinical restrictions on Dr Parker's, Oaks Hospital failed to notice that he was not complying with them at all.”

In a statement, the hospital operator, Ramsay Health Care, said: "This case raises serious patient safety issue that requires an independent review to understand what went wrong.

“The care and safety of all our patients is Oaks Hospital's number one priority. As soon as we were aware that Mr Parker had breached the restrictions placed on him, he was suspended and did not return to practice at Oaks Hospital.

"A full internal investigation is being conducted, which will include a review of patients treated by Mr Parker at Oaks Hospital. Two external experts have been engaged to assist with this review and we will ensure all recommendations are fully implemented."

Chief medical officer at East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust, Dr Angela Tillett, said: "As with any concerns raised about patient care we took immediate action and carried out our own internal investigation."

She added that all of the recommendations from the Royal College of Surgeons’ review were "put in place".

Parker has not worked at Colchester hospital since 2019.