News

More than 1500 patients recalled after team finds serious shortcomings in surgeon’s work

BMJ 2012; 345 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.e7699 (Published 13 November 2012) Cite this as: BMJ 2012;345:e7699
  1. Clare Dyer
  1. 1BMJ

More than 1500 patients of a recently retired consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist are to have their cases reviewed after an investigation by a team of experts found serious shortcomings in his work.

Rob Jones was a consultant with the Royal Cornwall Hospitals NHS Trust for 20 years, but a team from the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists found “major concerns about his colposcopy practice for some years.”

The team, which reported last April, said it was “disappointed” with the way the trust had managed the situation, missing a “clear opportunity” in 2007 to refer Jones to the National Clinical Assessment Service or send him for retraining.

Jones stopped doing colposcopy in 2011 and retired in May this year after he was suspended by the trust. He removed himself voluntarily from the General Medical Council register on 1 October.

He hit the headlines in 2010 when he delivered Prime Minister David Cameron’s baby daughter by emergency caesarean section at the Royal Cornwall Hospital in Truro while the Cameron family were holidaying.

The royal college’s team noted “a general opinion among theatre staff that Mr Jones’s surgery is of poor standard yet no one has been strong enough to do anything about it.” His “frequency of surgical complications . . . [is] considerably in excess of what would be expected from a benign gynaecologist,” they added.

The investigation found that Jones, who qualified in South Africa and was a consultant there for 10 years, was “a delightful person and well liked in the department.” But there were also “appalling relations with some staff” and “bizarre” decisions. He was “difficult to challenge” and seemed to be reluctant to follow guidelines, even though from 2007 to 2011 he chaired the local guidelines group.

The report said that an investigation took place in 2007 of seven cases of women with high grade cervical cytological abnormalities. It added, “It is difficult to ascertain what the outcome of the review was, but it is suggested that Mr Jones was not following national guidelines with regard to treatment and recall for these young women.”

The trust has written to 1574 women who were Jones’s patients in the last two and a half years and has commissioned an external report into the way it responded to whistleblowers’ allegations about him, which is expected to report next month.

In a statement the trust’s chief executive, Lezli Boswell, said, “We acknowledge the RCOG report identifies some concerns about the trust’s historical management of the case. This is exactly why we have commissioned the external review to learn any lessons for the organisation and possibly the wider NHS.”

The Medical Defence Union, which is advising Jones, said that he was unable to comment because of “his duty of patient confidentiality.”

Notes

Cite this as: BMJ 2012;345:e7699