Police are investigating possible medical negligence after about 40 patients died at a Brighton hospital.
The allegations of medical negligence were leveled by two consulting surgeons, who lost their jobs after raising the alarm about patient safety, The Guardian reported.
It is claimed that between 2015 and 2020, up to 40 people died due to errors in the neurosurgery and general surgery departments. Both advisers claimed that the Trust had not thoroughly investigated the deaths.
The operations took place at the Royal Sussex County Hospital, which is part of the University Hospitals Sussex NHS Foundation Trust.
Krishna Singh, a surgeon and one of the whistleblowers, claimed he lost his job as the Trust’s clinical director after raising concerns about patient safety.
He told The Guardian that cost-cutting measures at the hospital were “seriously unsafe”, claiming that the Trust had promoted under-qualified surgeons and overused substitute doctors who were under-qualified.
Detectives from Sussex Police wrote to George Findlay, the CEO of the Trust, to confirm they were investigating allegations of “criminal culpability by medical negligence”.
A statement from Sussex Police said: “Sussex Police have received allegations of medical negligence at Royal Sussex County Hospital, Brighton and are currently reviewing these allegations. The concerns raised relate to neurosurgery and general surgery in a period between 2015 and 2020.
“Investigations are at an early stage and this does not necessarily mean that they will lead to criminal charges. We work closely with partner agencies and the hospital foundation is fully cooperating with our assessment.”
The Trust said: “Sussex Police have contacted the Trust as part of their investigation into the care of a number of general surgery and neurosurgical patients at the Royal Sussex County Hospital in Brighton between 2015 and 2020.
“It would be inappropriate to comment further at this stage, other than to confirm that we are cooperating fully to ensure that the concerns raised are investigated.”
The Labor Court hearing against Mr Singh’s Trust was postponed this week due to the investigation.
‘Constant threat of retaliation’
The other consultant is said to be neurosurgeon Mansoor Foroughi, who was fired by the Trust in December 2021.
He is said to have previously expressed concern about 19 deaths and 23 cases of alleged serious harm to patients.
The British Medical Association (BMA) backs Mr Foroughi and said it was “unreasonable” to sack him.
Mr Foroughi’s concerns were handed to the Trust in a 70-page file, with details claiming that at least two of the deaths followed procedures by a surgeon, who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease shortly afterwards.
His file also described “a constant threat of retaliation against those who raise legitimate concerns,” according to the Guardian.
Dr. Latifa Patel, chair of the BMA, said the body had “heard with great concern the appalling treatment of these doctors after raising patient safety concerns with the trust, and continues to offer them our heartfelt support”.
“In an NHS still intoxicated by a culture of guilt, whistleblowers need to be heard and protected, not silenced and scapegoated,” she added.