LAWYERS have revealed that they are representing 20 women who have concerns about the treatment they or their babies received from a North-East consultant.
The solicitors, Bolt Burdon Kemp, said some of the allegations of medical negligence made against Dr Benjamin Ononeze were “potentially very serious” and urged any other patients who had been affected to come forward.
Catherine Bell, a specialist medical negligence solicitor at Bolt Burdon Kemp, said she believed the NHS had not done enough to contact the consultants former patients to identify if any of them had been treated inappropriately or put at risk.
This week the lawyers placed the latest of a series of large advertisements in The Northern Echo appealing to women who may have been treated by Ononeze and who have concerns about the treatment they or their baby received to contact them.
The Newcastle branch of Thompsons’ solicitors has also confirmed that it is representing a number of Dr Ononeze’s former patients
On their website Roberta Pyle, a specialist clinical negligence solicitor with Thompsons commented: “We are currently acting on behalf of a number of people treated by Dr Ononeze, all of whom are understandably concerned that he is subject to a GMC investigation.”
Last October Dr Ononeze, who worked at Darlington Memorial Hospital as a consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist between 2004-11 was found guilty of serious misconduct at a hearing of the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service in Manchester.
He was told that his actions while working at the Memorial fell below the standards expected of a reasonably competent doctor.
The doctor described a woman’s uterus as “like cheesecake and breaking into bits” after he removed it in an “inappropriate” procedure when an operation to remove an ovarian cyst went wrong.
He also admitted causing a “traumatic and unnecessary “ instrumental delivery of a baby when a caesarean was called for and incorrectly removing an ovary from a woman during a hysterectomy, despite previously agreeing not to touch it.
The medic also left a swab inside a patient after an outpatient procedure, which was not discovered until a month later.
After the hearing, panel chairman Dr Clive Richards told him “The panel considers that your actions taken as a whole fell seriously below the standards expected of a reasonably competent consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist.”
The panel ruled that a 12 month period of conditional registration would protect the public and allow the doctor to improve his skills. Dr Ononeze must also abide by 14 conditions, which restrict his practice and keep him closely monitored by the General Medical Council.
He will face a review hearing before the end of the period of conditional registration to prove he is fit to return to unrestricted practice.
Ms Bell said her firm is currently investigating claims made by 20 former patients of Dr Ononeze, including two allegations that babies were harmed during childbirth.
“We are continuing to receive enquiries from women who were treated by this consultant. We would say that it is vital that any women who are concerned about their treatment should come forward. This is the only way to ensure their concerns are properly investigated,” she added.
Earlier this year Ms Bell called on bosses at the County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust to conduct a full review of all of Dr Ononeze’s patients and to identify and contact anyone who may have been treated inappropriately or put at risk.
“I am not aware of a review of patients by the trust but I would encourage them to do so. Other trusts have done so in the past, especially after what happened at Mid-Staffordshire,” she added.
Dr Ononeze also worked at the Bishop Auckland General Hospital, the BMI Woodlands Hospital in Darlington and the Spire Washington Hospital.
County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust declined to comment.
Dr Ononeze could not be contacted for comment.