The General Medical Council and West Mercia Police are investigating the medical care provided by Mr Sudip Sarker, a colorectal surgeon, following a number of patient deaths.
Mr Sarker specialised in keyhole surgery for colon and bowel cancer. He previously worked for the NHS at Alexandra Hospital in Redditch and at the Worcestershire Royal Hospital from August 2011. He has been suspended from treating patients by Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust since October 2012 amid concerns over patient safety.
Concerns over Mr Sarker’s care were first raised in July 2012, when his colleagues referred him to the Royal College of Surgeons. Mr Sarker was allowed to continue treating patients whilst the investigations into his treatment took place, and they were unaware of this. A review of medical records found that Mr Sarker’s patient death rates were double those of other surgeons in a similar field. It was also found that 20% of Mr Sarker’s patients had to be readmitted to hospital for further treatment after undergoing surgery.
The Royal College of Surgeons has not published its report however a spokesperson 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”.
Mr Sarker is also being investigated by the General Medical Council, the regulatory body for doctors in the UK. Whilst he is able to continue treating patients, strict conditions have been placed on his registration to practise, including the requirement that his work is closely supervised by a Consultant. These restrictions will continue until at least August 2014.
The criminal investigation into Mr Sarker’s treatment began in 2013 after police received a letter with concerns about his medical treatment. West Mercia Police have said that their inquiry includes the three patients who died following surgery.
Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust has said that it is co-operating fully with the police and that it has reviewed medical records of all patients who underwent operations, both major and minor, under Mr Sarker. The Trust has said that patients whose treatment raised concerns have been contacted for further assessment.
In June 2013, the Trust set up an email address and helpline number for patients who are concerned about the treatment they received (01527 503812 / [email protected]). Since being set up, the helpline has received at least 51 calls from patients who were concerned about their treatment.
These findings are very concerning and likely to be distressing for patients who were treated by Mr Sarker. Patients will understandably be worried about their treatment and will want to be reassured that their care was appropriate. In these situations, it is vital that patients who are concerned seek independent legal advice about their options, especially if they have been contacted by Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust.