Following three years of investigations, cancer surgeon, Mr Sudip Sarker, has been dismissed from his position at Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust. Mr Sarker, who specialised in bowel and colon surgery, continues to be investigated by both the General Medical Council and West Mercia police. The investigations relate to a high number of patients who died whilst under Mr Sarker’s care.
How it All Began – 2012 onwards
Mr Sarker worked as a Consultant at both the Worcestershire Royal and Alexandra Hospitals in Redditch from August 2011.
Concerns about him were first raised in July 2012, when his worried colleagues referred him to the Royal College of Surgeons.
At the time, Mr Sarker was allowed to continue treating patients whilst the investigations into his treatment took place. Disturbingly, his patients were unaware of any concerns or investigations that were being undertaken.
As part of their investigations, the Royal College of Surgeons reviewed a group of medical records. They found that:
- Approximately 8% of Mr Sarker’s patients died within 28 days of being treated, double the rate of other surgeons in a similar field. The majority of the deaths occurred due to complications in surgery;
- Approximately 16% of Mr Sarker’s patients had to be re-admitted to hospital for more treatment after surgery, triple the rate of other surgeons in a similar field;
- Patient medical records may have been altered.
A spokesperson from The Royal College of Surgeons commented saying “At the end of our review, we gave immediate advice to [Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust] to stop the surgeon from contact with patients while the Trust’s further investigations continued and recommended that the Trust contacted the GMC”.
In October 2012, Mr Sarker was finally suspended from his job and no longer allowed to treat patients. However he continued to be officially employed by Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust, for a salary expected to be around £85,000.00 a year, until Monday.
On 13 July 2015 acting Trust chief executive Chris Tidman confirmed Mr Sarker’s dismissal and said “Mr Sudip Sarker has been dismissed from his position as a Consultant Colorectal Surgeon with Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust. I do hope that the dismissal provides assurance that the Trust will take whatever action is necessary so as to protect patient safety”.
General Medical Council Investigations
Mr Sarker continues to be investigated by the General Medical Council, the regulatory body for all doctors in the UK. Between February 2013 and June 2014, he had strict conditions which were put into place, which meant that he was able to act as a doctor but with restrictions, including being closely supervised by another doctor. Since the end of June 2014, he has been suspended – which means that is not allowed to practise as a doctor at all in the UK.
West Mercia Police
The deaths of at least three of Mr Sarker’s patients are being looked into by West Mercia Police, as part of a criminal investigation. This investigation began in 2013 after police received a letter outlining concerns about his medical practise. It has been identified that the inquiries relates to three patients who died following surgery. The patients have been identified as William Jones, 84, Daphne Taylor, 81 and Jean Thomas, 80. In February 2014, a joint Coroner’s inquest was held into their deaths. This found that Mrs Thomas, who had colon cancer, underwent keyhole surgery as open surgery. Two weeks later, she suffered complications and had to be re-admitted another three times. She died shortly after of multiple organ failure and sepsis.
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What Can Be Done?
These findings are extremely concerning and likely to be distressing for patients who were treated by Mr Sarker. If a patient suffers an injury because of unacceptable medical treatment, they may have a legal claim for compensation for medical negligence. An injury can have devastating consequences, including more pain and treatment, a longer time in hospital and an impact on your professional life. Compensation is meant to put the patient back in the position they would have been in had their treatment been appropriate, and to make up for any injuries and losses they have suffered because of negligence.
In this case particularly, it is worrying to know that there have been serious concerns about patient safety for three years – and yet patients were left in the dark and Mr Sarker was allowed to treat them for many more months. It’s unclear how many patients have been affected, although Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust has contacted some who have been involved. Mr Sarker’s patients will understandably be worried about their treatment and will want reassurance that their care was appropriate. It is vital that anyone who is concerned seeks independent legal advice on their options, especially if they have been contacted by Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust about their care.