In a case reminiscent of the suspension of Mr Arackal Manu Nair, the consultant whose surgical techniques for treating men with prostate cancer were found to be inappropriate in some cases and harmful in others, Mr Habib Rahman, a consultant orthopaedic surgeon, has been stopped from carrying out shoulder surgery following a review into his practice by the Royal College of Surgeons.
This story after came to light after Spire Parkway, the Solihull-based private hospital, sent a recall letter to over 200 patients whom Mr Rahman had treated. The surgeon had already been restricted from carrying out shoulder operations by the hospital in September 2018, and his full practising privileges were finally withdrawn in May 2019. Following an appraisal by the Royal College of Surgeons into his practice, the hospital was advised to contact all his patients to review their care and post-operative recovery. Mr Habib, who is employed by the University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Trust, has been working with restrictions since July 2019 while the GMC investigates.
Third surgeon found performing unnecessary surgery at Spire Parkway
The former breast surgeon, Ian Patterson, who was jailed for 20 years for performing ‘cleavage sparing’ mastectomies (not a recommended procedure) and other unnecessary breast operations, also practised at Spire Parkway. Mr Manu Nair also practised at Spire Parkway as well as Solihull and Heartland hospitals. Even before the Paterson case came to court, a report by Sir Ian Kennedy revealed that it was the hospital’s ‘weak, indecisive leadership’ which allowed Ian Paterson to get away with ‘over treating’ so many people, as well as continuing to perform a discredited surgical technique on others. The revelation that a third surgeon has been found to have been practising unnecessary procedures – and in an area of orthopaedics which, it was alleged, was not his speciality – must call into question the hospital’s ability to learn from past mistakes and its practices and procedures for assessing and monitoring surgeon competency.
Competence of hospital management called into question
Understandably, those affected are very concerned and upset that Mr Rahman is continuing to practise, albeit on a restricted basis. Hospitals have to follow certain procedures when investigating complaints about a surgeon’s competence, but questions can be equally asked about the competence of the hospital’s management. Post Paterson, Spire Healthcare publicly stated that lessons had been learnt, and that they had put procedures in place to stop doctors like Paterson and Manu Nair slipping through the net. The very fact that history has repeated itself, and in a relatively short timeframe, at the same hospital does not inspire confidence that anything has been learnt.
Is patient safety hollow rhetoric?
Patient safety is at the top of the NHS agenda and there is no excuse for any hospital, private or NHS, not to deploy proper procedures to ensure surgeons follow best practice. It is imperative that Spire Parkway demonstrates that it takes patient safety seriously by being open and transparent about the steps it intends to take to ensure that there is no repeat of situations like Ian Paterson, Arackal Manu Nair or Habib Rahman. Surgeons with a questionable track record can crop up in even the most exemplary organisations – the test is how they deal with the situation when it arises, avoiding the temptation to brush any allegations under the carpet. We have a track record of helping people who have been the victims of poor medical treatment, 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 Habib Rahman and wish to know if you can bring a medical negligence claim against him, please contact me in the strictest confidence.