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Solicitors Thomson Snell and Passmore handle complaints after deaths following keyhole surgery in Maidstone Hospital

By Angela Cole

For years patients may have suffered serious complications and died from a type of surgery only recently halted.

That claim is being made by solicitors acting for the family of a man who died after developing complications from upper gastrointestinal keyhole surgery for cancer during 2012-13.

Five patients died during this time after procedures at Maidstone Hospital.

Rosemary Coleman whose husband Philip may have died as the result of keyhole surgery at Maidstone Hospital
Rosemary Coleman whose husband Philip may have died as the result of keyhole surgery at Maidstone Hospital

Solicitors Thomson Snell and Passmore say they have had inquiries from a further 10 patients and their families after the Kent Messenger broke the story earlier this month.

They say complications could date back to 2008 – something the Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust has queried.

Operations were stopped after avoidable deaths and surgical complications came to light during 2012-2013.

The hospital called in the Royal College of Surgeons to review the procedure and the organisation recommended the surgery be stopped.

Maidstone Hospital
Maidstone Hospital

Cancer patients must now go to St Thomas’ Hospital in London for this procedure.

The General Medical Council has also been passed details.

Speaking about the latest information from the solicitors, the trust says it has yet to be proved that the extra 10 patients had this specialist type of cancer surgery, adding that the review found no concerns prior to 2012.

The Tunbridge Wells-based solicitors have been contacted by the families of eight patients who had serious injuries and two who died.

Surgery being performed. Library image
Surgery being performed. Library image

This type of keyhole surgery had been hailed as a way of patients recovering more quickly, but in many cases they took longer.

The trust confirmed it will make the review recommendations public once it has met with all the families affected.

A spokesman added that staff had been “held to account” but the standard of practice did not support further sanctions.

Lawyer Sharon Lam said: “There are still a lot of unanswered questions. Some patients believe they had prolonged hospitalisation and some had to undergo subsequent open corrective surgeries.”

She urged hospital managers to make a full and frank disclosure to address the unanswered questions.

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