Sarah (not her real name), 48, a property manager from Leeds, underwent surgery on her left shoulder after it was damaged in a car accident. The surgery was carried out by Michael Walsh, whom she is now suing for breach of duty through Pryers solicitors in York. Here Sarah describes her treatment and how she says it left her worse off.
“I had a car crash in July 2016 and was treated afterwards for my injuries, which included a possible dislocation of my left shoulder. However, I continued to have pain, so sought a second opinion as to whether I should now have surgery, and had that through Spire Healthcare. That’s how I first encountered Mr Walsh, at Nuffield Health’s Leeds hospital in December 2017.
“He seemed plausible and persuasive. He was older, which I found reassuring, and he talked about how he had a wealth of experience in fixing the type of injury I had. Six weeks later he operated on me.
“I now understand that he performed the wrong operation. That’s because an independent surgeon Spire asked to review a number of Walsh’s patients found that I had had ‘a failed procedure’, which had left me with a ‘cosmetic deformity’. I should have had a full prosthetic ligament replacement, not the outdated and, I’m told, inappropriate surgery which he did. It didn’t fix my problems. From what I know now, it was never going to work.
“I now have a pronounced lump on my left clavicle – my collarbone – near the top of my left arm. It’s more prominent than it should be, which makes me self-conscious and uncomfortable. I’m less able to do sport and exercise such as horse riding, which I used to really enjoy, because I don’t have full strength in my left arm.
“I wasn’t able to work for a while after I later had remedial surgery, which was the operation I should have had with Mr Walsh. I get pain, niggles and clicks in my left shoulder, so I get a reminder every day of Mr Walsh and the wrong surgery. I feel I’m paying the price for a procedure that should never have been done.
“I’ve been through emotions from anger – including with myself – to disappointment and frustration. I’m also annoyed at what I now think was Spire’s lack of communication. I saw Mr Walsh for two follow-up appointments, but when I turned up for the third one I was told he wasn’t available. Nobody told me why, but it seems it was because Spire had suspended him. If so, why wasn’t I told?
“Private hospitals should be more upfront in the information they give patients about the surgeon. There should be some way that people considering having surgery can easily find out what a surgeon’s track record is, their areas of expertise, and if they are up to date with the latest professional developments in their field. Trust in your surgeon’s experience and the treatment they’re recommending is vital. That would help patients choose the right surgeon.”