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Surgeon warned about life-changing injuries can continue working


A Norfolk surgeon who left two patients with life-changing injuries has received a formal warning by a disciplinary panel.

Camilo Valero Valdivieso was found guilty of "serious misconduct" by an independent medical panel after two operations went wrong in six days.

However, the panel found the surgeon had "learned from these events" and Mr Valero will continue to practise at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital (NNUH).

The findings from the Medical Practitioners Service (MPTS) panel said that his actions had "risked damaging public confidence in the profession."

It heard that he twice "misinterpreted the anatomy", on one occasion severing a patient's gallbladder.

One of his patients, Paul Tooth, 65, said his life was "a constant struggle" since his operation in January 2020.

During Mr Tooth's surgery a tube carrying bile from the liver and gallbladder to the small intestine was removed inappropriately, the panel heard.

It was told that the surgeon also failed to seek assistance from another experienced consultant.

Mr Tooth, a former RAF Engineer, had to undergo further surgery and live with a tube connected to his liver for 16 months.

After the hearing, he said: "The whole thing has left me utterly devastated and I'm really worried about what the future holds.

"Today's decision is just the first step in my seeking accountability from all those involved in allowing me and others to be irreparably harmed by Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital."

He is calling for future investigations at the NNUH to be more transparent and said he wanted answers about why the cases were not escalated more quickly.

A second patient, Lucy Wilson, 35, said she lives with a range of long-term issues following a gallbladder operation carried out by Mr Valero. She said she was "beyond broken" by the tribunal decision.

Mother-of-two Ms Wilson said: "We may as well have not come forward. The operation has ruined my life and I'm practically housebound now, unable to enjoy the family days out we used to have."

The panel found Mr Valero's conduct "fell far short of the standards expected from a doctor" and that he had "put patients at unwarranted risk of harm."

However, it said, the training and supervision he had since received meant his fitness to practice was not impaired and that it was "highly unlikely" he would put patients at risk in the future.

The panel also heard evidence he was "a valued member of the surgical team" and was "respected and well-regarded."

In a statement, Erika Denton, the hospital's medical director, said she accepted the decision and apologised to the two patients who experienced serious injuries and complications.

She added: "We fully investigated the incidents at the time and commissioned the Royal College of Surgeons (RSC) to review what happened, which resulted in a number of changes to strengthen our surgery processes.

"Mr Valero has expressed his profound sorrow and apologises for the errors that occurred during these two laparoscopic cholecystectomies."