In an example of the NHS taking seriously the need to monitor clinical care standards and react to problems, South London Healthcare Trust identified in 2012 concerns about the quality and outcomes of surgical procedures being performed by Mr Rod Irvine, consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist at South London Healthcare, and a formal investigation was instigated by the national Clinical Assessment Service.

To date, a sample clinical review of 255 patients treated by Mr Irvine revealed that 49 of his female patients would have ‘some cause of concern’ following their treatment and that 17 could have been ‘seriously affected’ by the procedures they were given. Most of these were carried out at Queen Mary’s Hospital in Sidcup. It is understood that the trust is writing directly to those women to advise them of the potential failings in the medical care that they received and it seems likely in turn that a number of these women will seek legal advice about bringing a clinical negligence claim against the trust.

Philippa Luscombe, partner in the clinical negligence team at Penningtons Solicitors LLP, said: “Given the outcome of the investigation into Mr Irvine’s clinical practice and the action taken by the GMC to date, it appears apparent that the standard of care provided to his patients on a number of occasions may have been below an acceptable standard. This is clearly shocking news for those who have been affected and it remains to be seen what damage they may have suffered. On the positive side, in this time of highlighting of failures by NHS trusts, it is encouraging to see that the trust in this instance did identify a problem and investigations have been undertaken. Further the fact that the trust is being pro active in contacting patients and advising them of potential problems is to be commended in terms of transparency. We understand that investigations are ongoing and further problems may yet be identified. We would advise anyone treated by Mr Irvine to seek medical advice if they are concerned about the treatment received and, if advised by the trust of potential failings to consider obtaining sensible legal advice on their position.”

The NHS has set up an information line for women who may have been treated by Mr Irvine and who may have concerns about their treatment. The number is 0800 044 5272