A Bristol surgeon “hurt” 203 women with unnecessary surgery

An NHS investigation found that more than 200 women were injured when an rogue surgeon operated on them unnecessarily.

Some of the women were left with physical problems that changed their lives or were unable to work, and many of them also suffered trauma and serious psychological damage.

A total of 203 women were injured for whom Anthony Dixon performed procedures between 2007 and 2017, according to the North Bristol NHS Trust (NBT). Dixon, the most influential pelvic surgeon in Britain for years, worked for the trust and the Spire Private Hospital in the city.

In 2017, the NBT began monitoring Dixon’s performance and suspended him after dozens of women who underwent procedures complained that they had dire consequences, including unmanageable pain and incontinence. At the end of 2017, The Guardian revealed that 100 women had sued him for medical negligence. Some cases have been resolved in the meantime, but dozens are ongoing.

The NBT fired Dixon in 2019 and is currently banned from practicing in the United Kingdom.

During the review, 378 women were recalled and asked to explain their dealings with Dixon. All underwent a procedure called laparoscopic ventral mesh rectopexy (LVMR), in which a plastic mesh is inserted to repair weakened tissue in the pelvic floor.

In documents submitted to the NBT board on Thursday, board members were told that the investigation had been completed. “The Trust informed 203 NHS patients that although their LVMR operation was satisfactory, they should be offered alternative treatment before proceeding with the operation. We have defined these patients as suffering ‘damage’ as a result, the statement said.

Anthony Dixon
Anthony Dixon does not currently have a license to perform surgery. NHS pictures

The trust set up a clinical advisory group of experts to assess what had happened to each of the 378 women. Of the 218 women Dixon operated on at Southmead Hospital, 110 were found to have been injured. And among another 169 NHS patients who underwent LVMR at Spire Hospital, 93 were injured.

The other 175 women he treated in both facilities suffered no harm and there were nine other cases in which the clinical advisory group was unable to reach a conclusion.

Luke Trevorrow, a lawyer specializing in medical negligence in the lawyers of Irwin Mitchell, one of the companies representing Dixon’s victims, said: “For many years, patients have been seriously concerned about the appropriate procedures. Unfortunately, the trust’s own findings have now confirmed these concerns.

“This latest information is incredibly disturbing and has caused great suffering to our clients, many of whom continue to experience physical and mental problems after the operation.”

BBC’s Western health correspondent Matthew Hill was the first to report on the outcome of the investigation. The Trust summarized the findings in a five-page update, which included 157 pages of documents to be discussed by its board on Thursday. The NBT did not warn the media that it was finally publishing details of a large probe that took almost five years to complete.

Annette Whiting, 62, of Bristol, one of whom Dixon performed LVMR, told the BBC: “I felt hurt. To more angry, to more angry.

“It affects your daily life. Your body hurts, you have to run to the toilet, you have no control at all. “

The Trust stated that with respect to 203 patients, “injury is defined as undergoing surgery that may not have been required, where other less invasive options may have been offered first, even if the LVMR procedure was performed according to an appropriate clinical standard. “

The NBT said it was “extremely sorry” for the suffering Dixon had caused by implementing the LVMR.

A spokeswoman for the General Medical Council, which regulates the medical profession, confirmed that Dixon is not currently licensed to practice medicine. [the] the conclusion of the proficiency testing ‘.

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