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Surgeon branded bully faces review after patient, 17, dies

Catherine O’Connor, who was born with spina bifida and used a wheelchair all her life, was looking forward to the surgery to fix her twisted spine.

Tragically, after a catastrophic loss of blood, she died on the operating table at Salford Royal Hospital in Manchester.

She died in February 2007 but only now has an NHS-commissioned report concluded the “unacceptable and unjustifiable” actions of her surgeon, John Bradley Williamson, “directly contributed” to her death. Williamson pressed on with the surgery despite being explicitly told he needed a second consultant surgeon.

Her case is one of more than a hundred of Williamson’s being reviewed by Salford Royal Hospital amid allegations by whistleblowers of a cover-up by managers and a “toxic culture” within his surgery team.

An internal list produced by concerned clinicians as long ago as 2014 describes some of Williamson’s patients being left paralysed or in severe pain as a result of misplaced spinal screws and others being rushed back to theatre for life-saving surgery.

Separately, leaked minutes of a meeting between staff and the hospital’s new chief executive in December 2021 described a “snapshot” of five of Williamson’s patients which “clearly identified significant areas of clinical care, avoidable harm and avoidable death”. They added: “Concerns around Mr Williamson continue to be raised and remain unaddressed.”

Read full story (paywalled)

Source: The Times, 17 July 2022


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