Manchester spinal patient wants answers over 19-year ‘agony’

A woman who had spinal surgery as a child said she has been in “agonising pain” since the operation 19 years ago.

Emily Bhogal was operated on by John Bradley Williamson, who was found by the NHS to have caused “serious harm” to some patients under his care.

The 30-year-old said she was “upset and angry” after a review by the Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital concluded she had not been harmed.

Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust said it would discuss Ms Bhogal’s concerns with her.

Ms Bhogal, from Up Holland near Skelmersdale, was 11 when metal rods were inserted into her backbone during surgery to treat scoliosis, an abnormal curvature of the spine.

The operation took place at the former Pendlebury Children’s Hospital, now Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital.

Ms Bhogal said the chronic pain made it difficult to look after her one-year-old daughter, and caused her problems getting out of bed.

A review of her care by Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust, which runs Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital, noted a “good correction” of her spine, adding the position of rods and screws was “appropriate”.

But Ms Bhogal said an assessment by her current spinal surgeon at another NHS Trust found at least five of the 10 screws used in surgery were “less than ideally placed”.

Ms Bhogal has asked medical negligence lawyers at Irwin Mitchell to investigate her care and help gain access to specialist treatment.

She said she felt like the Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust was “trying to brush things under the carpet”.

“That’s why I need full and proper answers, it’s the least I deserve,” she said.

This week, private firm Spire Healthcare extended a recall for patients treated by Mr Williamson so it could review the care they received.

He worked as a consultant at Salford Royal Hospital between 1991 and January 2015.

Catherine Slattery, a lawyer at Irwin Mitchell, said there should be a “full recall” of all Mr Williamson’s patients to “uphold public confidence” and “ensure all lessons are learned”.

A separate review into the death of Catherine O’Connor, 17, who died during an operation carried out by Williamson at an NHS hospital in 2007, is currently being conducted by Greater Manchester Police.

Mr Williamson has previously said it was “important to recognise standards in many aspects of practice have changed considerably since 1998”.

“I have always made patient care my first priority and recent reports of reviews have acknowledged evidence of good outcomes, some in very complex cases,” he said.

A spokesperson for Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust said: “The scope of our review was developed with consideration of the National Quality Board’s Recall Framework.

“We understand Mrs Bhogal has concerns about the findings of this process and we’re happy to meet with her to discuss her treatment and the findings of our review.”

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