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Recommendations only will be released into why specialist surgery at Maidstone Hospital, Hermitage Lane, had to be halted

By Angela Cole

A report detailing why specialist surgery had to be halted at Maidstone Hospital will not be released in full, it has been confirmed.

The investigation which concluded five people died from avoidable complications after having their upper gastro intestinal laparoscopic cancer operations at the Hermitage Lane site between 2012-13 was carried out by the Royal College of Surgeons, on behalf of the Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust.

Many are now clamouring for the full report to be made publicly available and the same request has been made by the KM.

But NHS bosses have confirmed only the recommendations will be publicised.

Maidstone Hospital
Maidstone Hospital

Tunbridge Wells-based solicitors Thomson Snell & Passmore, who are representing at least one of the families involved, said a Freedom of Information request made for the full report had been refused.

The firm said the reason given had been a Section 41 exemption under the Act which states publication could be refused if revealing details were considered a breach of confidence actionable by the RCS. However, the RCS has said it has no objection. They also confirmed that the report became the property of the trust once it was completed.

Solicitor Sharon Lam, who specialises in clinical negligence claims, her firm had received inquiries dating back to 2008, which meant there were concerns that the affected period could go beyond 2013-14. The trust have denied this is the case and said the RCS had no concerns about the surgery before that period.

"Only by releasing the report would we have some idea of the number of the potential victims," she said

“The patients and their families have a right to know the outcome of the investigation and whether the surgeons concerned are still practising the same type of surgery privately. It is clearly in the public interest to ensure that the report is disclosed as soon as possible. We are currently in correspondence with the hospital in the hope of persuading them to change their mind.”

The hospital trust has defended paying a consultant £200,000 in one year. File picture
The hospital trust has defended paying a consultant £200,000 in one year. File picture

She added that some families and patients had reported asking for the report themselves but were declined.

A trust spokesman told the KM: “Our overall review of upper GI cancer surgery did not identify wider issues pre 2012-13 and mortality rates were within national levels.”

"We have been consistently clear that we will make the recommendations of the review publicly available once we have met with the families involved and shared these with them. This is to give them the time and space to discuss any aspects of their loved ones care with us first within the context of the report’s findings, which are reflected in the recommendations.”

The surgery is now being carried out at King's College Hospital in London for a year.

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