A MOTHER-OF-TWO whose life was dramatically changed by a botched routine operation says she now needs to get on with her life.
Last week a General Medical Council fitness to practice hearing suspended the surgeon responsible for 12 months.
Bridlington healthcare assistant Jo Roche, 42, said the decision – which means Scarborough Hospital surgeon Nayef El-Barghouty will not be registered to practice for a year – would save lives.
She said: “In an ideal situation he would have been erased from the medical register, but a 12-month suspension is the next best thing.
“That’s a win for us, we know that we have saved people from going under the knife and it will save lives.”
The surgeon, who had worked at Scarborough Hospital since 1998, was said to have made a catalogue of “woeful” blunders relating to an operation on Jo, of St Stephen Road, Bridlington, in January 2008 to remove her thyroid gland.
The GMC panel heard Mr El-Barghouty completed her operation in 90 minutes rather than the recommended two to three hours – and her vocal chords had been severely damaged.
She needed corrective surgery and was left having to breathe through a tube in her neck.
It left her barely able to speak and completely altered her life and that of husband David, 44 and their two children Calvin, 15, and Poppy, 13,
Nowadays she tires easily, is more prone to infections, and cannot enjoy many of the everyday things she loved – Bonfire Night, because of the smoke, swimming with the – continued on Page 3
children, and even has to be careful which cleaning products she buys. Nor is she as sociable as she used to be.
“I had to teach myself to talk again, but my voice is so quiet it’s hard to make myself heard. It’s changed my personality, I tend to just observe things now rather than speak up. Talking is difficult and takes a lot of energy,” she said.
Some things can never be replaced.
“The children can’t really remember how I used to speak,
“When they see old holiday videos they see me without the tube and realise they had forgotten what my voice was like. I have nieces and nephews who will never know.”
Jo, who works at Bridlington Medical Centre in Station Avenue, said the strain of pursuing her case through the General Medical Council hearing had also “worn her out.”
“I was shaking like a leaf, he (Mr El-Barghouty) was there, it was intimidating at times, as was all the publicity. I have never been one for pushing myself forward, but this was something I just had to do for myself and for others.
“I have heard lots of stories from others who have had similar things happen, but very few of them have done anything about it,” she said.
She described her husband, and their children who both go to Headlands School, as having supported her through everything, also her parents Pam and Robin Broadley of Headlands Close.
“It has affected all our lives, we have all had to go through it,” she said.
As for the future Jo said she just has to get on with things.
“I have to carry on, this condition is for a lifetime. Life is not always great, you only have one life so I have to make the most of it,” she said.
That includes carrying on working at the medical centre.
“The staff there have been wonderful and supportive. I think working there, like my husband and children, has helped keep me going, People have been fantastic,” said Jo.
She still gets angry about what happened. “I should have gone in there and come out on the mend, instead I went in and came out in a worse situation that I’ve got for the rest of my life.”
Last week’s GMC hearing was also told about three operations carried out by Mr El-Barghouty almost a year later in 2009 on 83-year-old aneurysm patient Wilfrid Taylor of Scarborough.
Errors meant Mr Taylor eventually had three operations in the same day, he died during the third operation when he bled to death.
The surgeon admitted lying at his inquest, giving “false and utterly misleading” evidence about the size of his aneurysm. Under oath, he also told the inquest the litigation of the artery was a recognisable complication of the operation, when it was in fact not an accepted risk.
The GMC ruled the majority of facts against him had been proved at a fitness to practise He had put patients at “unwarranted risk of harm”, brought the medical profession into disrepute, breached “fundamental tenets” of the profession and acted dishonestly in a way that was “deliberate and sustained”.
In both Mrs Roche and Mr Taylor’s cases the hospital trust paid damages.
Simon Wilson, solicitor acting for both families, said: “The errors made in the care of Mrs Roche and Mr Taylor’s father Wilfrid were woeful.
Mike Proctor, Chief Executive of Scarborough and North East Yorkshire Healthcare NHS Trust said: “We acknowledge the outcome of this hearing, and must now take the time to consider the consequences of the GMC’s decision and the action we need to take as an organisation.”