A doctor who allegedly botched three gallbladder operations in five days is still working for the NHS, despite being under investigation by the medical watchdog.
Camilo Valero, a consultant general surgeon, has been working at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospitals Trust for the past 21 months although he is not allowed to operate on patients with bile complaints.
The Royal College of Surgeons said in July last year that Mr Valero should ‘undertake non-biliary tract surgery’ with the help of a ‘nominated consultant surgeon colleague’ until the General Medical Council gives a ruling.
A hearing is expected early next year. Police are awaiting the watchdog’s report before deciding whether to open an investigation.
Doctor Camilo Valero who allegedly botched three gallbladder operations in five days is still working for the NHS, despite being under investigation by the medical watchdog
The alleged blunders are detailed in Channel 4’s Dispatches programme Clapped Out: Is The NHS Broken? which airs tomorrow night.
It reports that in the 12 months to March, there were 364 serious incidents described by the NHS as ‘never events’ – serious incidents that are entirely preventable.
They included 142 cases of ‘wrong site surgery’, where surgery is performed on the wrong body part, although the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital claims the three operations conducted by Mr Valero are not classed as never events.
The hospital has admitted liability for two of the cases and is negotiating compensation with victims Lucy Wilson, a 34-year-old mother- of-two, and Paul Tooth, 64. The hospital declined to comment on the status of the third case.
The first blunder happened in January last year when Ms Wilson, a prescription clerk at a surgery in Norwich, went into hospital for a routine operation to remove her gallbladder.
The operation did not go smoothly and Mr Valero cut away her common bile duct, which links the liver to the intestines, as well as cutting into the right-hand side of her liver, causing bile to flood her abdomen and corrode her internal organs.
She was rushed to Addenbrooke’s Hospital, Cambridge, where doctors spent 11 hours reconstructing a duct using part of her intestine.
Ms Wilson, now incontinent and in severe pain, was told her recovery was ‘a miracle’.
She said: ‘It’s astonishing to think that they care so little, not just about the patients, that they haven’t even suspended him pending an outcome, which in most other professions would have been the case.
‘I’ll never have another baby. I can’t go to lunch because I have to wear a nappy.
‘I’m just a shell of who I used to be. I’m just sitting in my chair at home just waiting to die.’
The Royal College of Surgeons said in July last year that Mr Valero should ‘undertake non-biliary tract surgery’ with the help of a ‘nominated consultant surgeon colleague’ until the General Medical Council gives a ruling (stock image)
Five days after Ms Wilson’s surgery, Mr Valero operated on Mr Tooth.
Again, he removed his common bile duct and severely damaged his liver by taking ‘chunks’ out of it and cutting through an artery.
Unlike Ms Wilson, he was not transferred to Addenbrooke’s at the time. Instead, he waited 18 months to have surgery, in which he had to ‘recycle’ bile through a tube in his nose. In June this year, he had two-thirds of his liver removed.
Mr Tooth said: ‘Like Lucy, it’s changed my life for ever. You don’t expect to come out and be mutilated and have all of your insides removed. Meanwhile, Valero continues to work and his life continues, while mine and my family’s life is pretty much ruined.’
Erika Denton, medical director at Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, apologised to the two patients and said: ‘We fully investigated and commissioned the Royal College of Surgeons to review what happened and have subsequently changed and strengthened our surgery processes.’
A GMC spokesman added: ‘We are investigating these serious concerns and will be working closely with the trust throughout this process.’