Mum left with hearing loss and balance problems after operation by 'rusty' surgeon at Harrogate Hospital

Hannah Buxton with family members Owen, Evie, Harry, Austin and David.
Hannah Buxton with family members Owen, Evie, Harry, Austin and David.
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A woman who was left permanently deaf in one ear after a routine operation went wrong has spoken of her ordeal after taking legal action.

An NHS trust has apologised to Hannah Buxton, 36, and agreed a six-figure financial settlement following an investigation into her treatment at Harrogate District Hospital.

She was left with hearing loss in her right ear, along with ongoing symptoms including vertigo, imbalance and dizziness after treatment at the hospital in January 2016.

Hannah, of Kirby Hill near Boroughbridge, had been diagnosed with an ear infection and referred to the hospital to be fitted with a grommet, a small tube which drains fluid from the ear.

After the procedure she felt dizzy and nauseous and the following day she was so ill she had to be taken to A&E.

Months later, a further procedure found that the grommet had been inserted incorrectly. It was also revealed that her infection had been misdiagnosed and it was actually a non-cancerous growth called a cholesteatoma.

A subsequent investigation by Harrogate and District NHS Foundation Trust found that the initial procedure was carried out by a surgeon with "rusty" grommet insertion skills.

Hannah said: "Losing my hearing in the ear was a nightmare and then to discover that it was caused by the treatment was very hard to take.

“You put all of your faith in the medical profession, but these problems have destroyed that trust for me. Nothing will change what I have been through and it is absolutely vital that these mistakes are never repeated. The NHS must learn lessons from it.”

Law firm Irwin Mitchell said a root cause of the incident was found to be grommet insertion undertaken by a doctor with little recent experience in the technique, along with a lack of clinical supervision and assessment.

Ross McWilliams, specialist lawyer at Irwin Mitchell’s Leeds office, said: "Perhaps most worryingly, they had even asked not to do such procedures because they did not feel competent, yet those requests were seemingly ignored.

“While we are delighted to have secured Hannah a settlement to help her in future she would rather not be in this position and it’s absolutely vital that lessons are learned from this case and the many issues raised are simply never repeated again in the future.”

The financial settlement will help Hannah pay for specialist hearing aids and rehabilitation for vestibular failure affecting her balance.

Dr David Scullion, Medical Director at Harrogate and District NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We have apologised to Ms Buxton for her care, which fell below the standards we expect. I would like to reiterate that apology now.

"As soon as we were aware of the issue at the time of treatment we provided support to Ms Buxton.

“We take all patient safety incidents very seriously and we carried out a serious incident review, involving Ms Buxton in this process. This review resulted in changes to clinical practice.

"The trust is committed to putting measures in place to improve patient safety and experience."