A private healthcare provider has been fined after it was found that it failed to notify patients of potential treatment failures and problems within a reasonable period of time. The Spire Healthcare court case has now led to a fine of £5,000 for the firm, which was also ordered to pay almost £15,000 in court costs.
The care provided by Michael Walsh, a former orthopaedic surgeon, was reviewed within Spire Healthcare in 2017 and later by an orthopaedic consultant in 2018. It has been reported that four affected patients were not made aware of the potentially negligent care until at least several months after the concerns were said to have been raised.
It is concerning that Spire Hospital Leeds delayed giving information to patients for so long, leaving them unaware of the reasons behind the pain they may have been experiencing following potentially harmful procedures. Healthcare organisations should always be transparent when it comes to medical negligence investigations, or they risk worsening the health and wellbeing of affected patients.
Surgeon Michael Walsh’s harmful treatment
Michael Walsh, a former upper limb orthopaedic consultant at Spire Healthcare, was suspended from his position in April 2018 and no longer holds a license to practise medicine. His removal from Spire Hospital Leeds came after reviews into patient treatment found that his surgical procedures had repeatedly harmed patients, causing them undue pain and leading to a need for reparative treatment in some cases.
In such circumstances, patients should be immediately notified of any concerns. Even if the allegations of negligence are not yet confirmed, it is important that the potentially affected patients are informed of reviews into their treatment. Unfortunately, the Spire Healthcare court case found that the affected patients were notified far too late.
The findings of the Spire Healthcare court case
The Spire Healthcare court case came about after the Care Quality Commission (CQC) launched a case against the firm, and this is said to be the first occasion where it has prosecuted a private healthcare provider in its history. The case primarily concerned Spire Healthcare’s alleged failure to comply with CQC regulations relating to ‘duty of candour’, which obliges healthcare providers to be transparent and honest with their patients.
By delaying the notification letters to patients by at least several months, Spire Healthcare failed to meet the duty of candour. The reasons behind the delays remain unclear, although we would sincerely hope that it is nothing to do with Spire Healthcare not wanting to inform patients until investigations were concluded, perhaps as a way of minimising damage to the organisation’s reputation. We can only speculate.
Seeking justice through medical negligence claims
Regardless of the reasons behind Spire Healthcare’s actions, it remains important to highlight that patient safety should never be compromised where medical negligence investigations are concerned. The Spire Healthcare court case will hopefully show healthcare providers that they can, and will, be held accountable where necessary.
For the patients themselves, we believe that justice can be found through medical negligence claims. It may not always be possible to reverse the harm you have been caused but, by claiming compensation, you can ensure that the responsible parties are held accountable for their actions.
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