NHS chiefs face £2m bill over ‘botched’ operations

SIXTY four new claims for damages have been lodged against a Yorkshire surgeon, with a further 26 set to follow, it can be revealed today.

More than £1m has already been paid out by the NHS to settle 13 claims against Manjit Bhamra in connection with alleged botched operations while he worked at Rotherham General Hospital.

The new claims could send the final compensation bill beyond £2m and the law firm dealing with most of the claims has expressed concern there are so many against the work of a single surgeon.

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Mr Bhamra, an orthopaedic surgeon, has twice been cleared to continue working following investigations by the General Medical Council (GMC) and now works at Wakefield-based Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust.

Responding to a freedom of information request, Rotherham Hospital said 64 new claims had been formally received and it anticipated a further 26 would be served under a protocol agreed with claimants’ solicitors to help to manage the large number of legal actions involved.

In January it was revealed Rotherham Hospital had settled 12 claims for a total of £1,047,784. The amounts ranged from £1,750 to £500,000 with the hospital admitting liability in half of the settled claims but no admission in the other six.

The hospital has now confirmed a 13th claim has been settled for £11,000. The hospital said it accepted an offer to settle from the claimant before any admission or denial of liability was made.

The claims relate to hip, knee, elbow and shoulder operations and focus on the period from 2005 to 2007, the year Mr Bhamra left Rotherham Hospital.

A Rotherham Hospital spokeswoman said: “We can confirm that we have entered into a protocol to investigate a number of claims arising from treatment provided by Mr Bhamra. Whilst we cannot comment on individual cases, we are supporting the process to ensure that any cases where compensation should be paid are identified as quickly as possible. At this stage, we are unclear how many of the claims received will result in compensation being paid.”

Nearly all the current claims are being handled by Irwin Mitchell solicitors. Tim Annett, a specialist in firm’s the medical law and patients’ rights team, said: “Having already concluded five cases on behalf of clients who suffered complications after surgery by Mr Bhamra, Irwin Mitchell has now agreed a protocol for further cases to be investigated on behalf of clients who have experienced difficulties following surgery by the same person. We have currently submitted 88 cases to be reviewed .

“As a firm which has repeatedly stressed the need for patient safety to be the top priority in the NHS, we are naturally very concerned that we are currently investigating 88 cases involving the same surgeon. It is too early to make further comment, as cases going through the protocol are at early stages and need further investigation by ourselves and the NHS.”

Since January 2008, Mr Bhamra has been employed at Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust. He retains a full licence to practise and does not face any proceedings in front of the General Medical Council. Two referrals to the GMC by Rotherham Hospital resulted in no further action being taken.

Andrew Jackson, Mid Yorkshire’s Associate Medical Director, said: “All medical staff that we recruit are subject to a robust recruitment process which complies with NHS guidelines and we routinely monitor the practice of all our surgeons using a range of measures. We currently have no cause for concern about any aspect of Mr Bhamra’s practice.”