Last year we reported on the recall of patients following the suspension of consultant, Manu Nair, from the Heart of England NHS Trust after concerns that he was carrying out unnecessary surgery on some men, but under treating others for prostate cancer, resulting in many suffering from constant pain, infertility and incontinence.

There were also concerns that he has also been inappropriately treating patients for kidney problems. Around 170 patients were originally recalled, both NHS and private (he also practised at the Spire Parkway Hospital in Solihull and the BMI Priory Hospital), following his suspension from the Trust in 2014. We are now aware that those presently bringing a claim must notify their claims to the relevant bodies by 30 September 2016. Therefore, if you think you have been affected but have not yet decided whether or not to make a claim, please get in touch. Those who have yet to instruct solicitors may be able to bring claims after this date, but it is very important that such claims are prosecuted without delay.

Affected patients recalled

Many of the affected patients have already sought advice on pursuing a medical negligence claim after discovering that the harm they have suffered is not a routine part of having cancer treatment. Mr Nair was performing radical prostatectomies (where the whole prostate gland is removed) High Intensity Focused Ultrasound (HIFU) and Green Light Laser treatments. He was also treating kidney conditions. The allegations against Mr Nair centred on whether or not his use of these techniques was appropriate as well as investigating allegations that some of the men did not even need treatment.

Did Mr Nair take unnecessary risks?

There is no doubt that Mr Nair had a respected reputation. In addition to his TV appearances on Channel Four’s ‘Embarrassing Bodies’ he was also one of the first surgeons outside London to offer patients HIFU. However, according to the Cancer Research website, this treatment is only effective for certain types of cancer and only single site tumours (it is not effective for cancers which have spread to other parts of the body). In addition, under NICE guidelines it is normally only given as part of a trial and patients should have been told of this at the time of treatment. Patient safety is at the top of the NHS agenda and there is no excuse for any hospital not to deploy proper procedures to ensure surgeons follow best practice.

Failure to monitor, failure to follow procedures

Unfortunately for the hospitals involved, the allegations against Mr Nair followed hot on the heels of the Ian Paterson scandal in 2012. Mr Paterson has been accused of carrying out unnecessary breast surgery on women, including ‘cleavage sparing’ surgery, an unapproved technique which ran the risk of leaving cancer cells in the breast tissue.

On the face of it, this case will allege procedures and protocols were not being correctly followed. Hospitals have procedures in place for very good reasons – to stop patients being harmed unnecessarily. If surgeons are using techniques which are only approved in limited circumstances then this must be subject to strict monitoring to ensure that such usage does not stray beyond set boundaries. If you would like to discuss whether or not you may have a potential claim, please contact me as soon as possible so that I can talk you through the options available to you.

About the author

Jeanette Whyman Partner

Jeanette is head of the medical negligence team. Having worked previously for Hospital Trusts, Jeanette has extensive knowledge of hospital practices and procedures. This means that she is able to assess a case speedily and to anticipate the other parties' position – this enables her to put forward the best possible case on behalf of her client.