A BBC investigation has revealed another ‘rogue’ surgeon whose fitness to practise was called into question as long ago as 2010 but who was allowed to continue operating on people’s shoulders despite having 21 negligence claims lodged against him between 2010 and 2018.
Walsall Manor NHS Hospital is now recalling up to 600 former patients of orthopaedic consultant, Mian Munawar Shah, who has now been suspended from practising further. This story is reminiscent of other surgeons – the most notorious of whom is the convicted former surgeon, Ian Paterson – who have left a trail of injured patients whose lives have been completely upended by botched surgery.
2010 claim against Mr Shah
The first warning about Mr Shah came in 2010 when a private patient, on whom he had operated at Spire Little Aston, made a successful claim against the hospital after she suffered severe neurological damage following surgery. Unfortunately, when the patient asked the GMC fitness to practise team to investigate Mr Shah, she was told that not only was it too late (her alert was over the five year limit) but also that Walsall Manor Hospital had given him the green light to continue after a revalidation exercise in 2014. It took another six years before Walsall Manor asked the Royal College of Surgeons to carry out a review into surgery generally, and Mr Shah’s surgery specifically before action was taken. The RCS recommended a recall of patients following which the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service (MPTS) issued an interim order, preventing Mr Shah from doing unsupervised laterjet procedures or shoulder replacements.
‘How was this allowed to happen?’
The BBC report records the entirely understandable reactions from two injured patients who were shocked that allegations calling into question Mr Shah’s surgical competence dated back over 10 years, querying how he was able to continue operating for so long. Despite the emphasis on patient safety, the duty of candour, the endless reports and investigations into allegations of negligence and poor treatment, there are still surgeons who continue to operate and who continue to injure patients. In 2020 we reported on orthopaedic surgeon, Habib Rahman, who was also suspended from carrying out shoulder surgery following a review into his practice by the Royal College of Surgeons. As well as working for the NHS, Mr Rahman also performed surgery on private patients at Spire Parkway – the same hospital where both Ian Paterson and Manu Nair also practised (albeit different surgical disciplines).
Hospitals must implement best practice
Patients have every right to be dismayed by poor care: where were the checks and balances? Did none of the theatre team or fellow surgeons notice anything was amiss? Were they too frightened of adverse consequences to speak out? What were the hospitals’ senior management teams doing? Surely, one valid claim of negligence should be enough to spark a review but to wait until 21 have been received smacks of incompetence.
There has to be a better way of enforcing a strict standard of surgical best practice across all hospitals. Most do get it right so there are clearly blueprints available for those hospitals that struggle. Given the size of the NHS, there will always be surgeons who escape scrutiny by sliding under the radar of those whose job it is to make sure they are practising to the highest standards. But management teams must make it easy for colleagues to report their concerns about others’ competence. Otherwise, the cycle will simply keep repeating itself.
We have a track record of helping people who have been the victims of poor medical treatment and negligence, having brought successful claims on behalf of both NHS and private patients of both Ian Paterson and Arackal Manu Nair. If you have been treated by Mr Mair Munawar Shah and wish to know if you can bring a compensation claim against him, please contact me in the strictest confidence.