SOLICITORS representing patients of a consultant who made mistakes while operating on women at Darlington Memorial Hospital say some clients were unaware their treatment was being investigated.
Law firm Bolt Burdon Kemp acts on behalf of a number of women concerned about treatment they received from Dr Benjamin Ononeze, including those whose specific cases appear to have been anonymously investigated by the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service (MPTS), part of the General Medical Council (GMC).
Dr Ononeze, who worked as an obstetrics and gynaecology consultant, was found guilty of serious misconduct at the MPTS hearing in Manchester last October.
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The panel found his actions ‘caused patients unnecessary suffering and put them at significant risk’.
Although he was allowed to continue working, conditions were placed on his registration for 12 months, to allow him to undergo retraining.
The law firm said it was ‘regrettable’ that no attempt was apparently made to inform patients of Dr Ononeze that their cases were being investigated, albeit with their personal details redacted.
Catherine Bell, a solicitor specialising in obstetric and gynaecological claims at Bolt Burdon Kemp, said: “Our clients were understandably shocked and distressed to learn, first that Dr Ononeze had been investigated by the GMC and second, that in some cases their own treatment may have been specifically considered.
“Patient safety must always be the top priority.
“In circumstances like this, where concerns have been raised, it is essential that a thorough and open investigation take place.”
Ms Bell called on NHS bosses to conduct a full review of all Dr Ononeze’s patients and to identify and contact anyone who may have been treated inappropriately or otherwise put at risk.
She added: “It is vital that any women worried about their treatment seek independent legal advice so that their concerns can be investigated.”
Dr Ononeze also saw patients at Bishop Auckland Hospital and BMI Woodlands Hospital in Darlington.
At the MPTS panel hearing in Manchester, which related to his performance at Darlington Memorial Hospital between February and April 2011, Dr Ononeze admitted making serious mistakes during surgery to remove an ovarian cyst which resulted in a hysterectomy and attempting an inappropriate and “traumatic” delivery using forceps.
The mother of the baby in that case required further surgery to repair internal injuries sustained during the emergency caesarean.