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Thursday 27th October 2016

Birmingham hospital sacks doctor after breast cancer patient's death

14th October 2008

A consultant was sacked by a Birmingham hospital following an internal inquiry into why a breast cancer patient died just 48 hours after having reconstructive surgery.

University Hospital Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust, which runs the Queen Elizabeth and Selly Oak hospitals, ended Dr Martin King’s contract on September 18.

Debbie Yardley, of Quinton, was diagnosed with breast cancer in June 2003 - six months after a mammogram which showed tissue abnormalities was misplaced by staff, and as a result she was not recalled for further treatment.

Just weeks later, on July 2, doctors revealed the cancer had spread and the 45-year-old mother underwent a double mastectomy. Two years later Mrs Yardley underwent reconstructive breast surgery at Selly Oak Hospital.

But Dr King failed to notice after the six-hour surgery, when staff removed a ventilation tube, that she suffered a laryngospasm which caused the larynx to close, stopping air getting to her lungs, and as a result she suffered a cardio respiratory arrest.

Independent experts later found that Mrs Yardley has been given more than double the recommended dose of Bupivacaine, which is believed to have contributed to her death.

The anaesthetist’s ability to work is currently subject to a string of restrictions imposed by the General Medical Council (GMC), which are set to be reviewed in December 2009. But Mrs Yardley's husband David said: “I think the GMC shouldn’t have issued the interim order on him because it still allows him to practice.

“As far as I’m concerned he should have been struck off the minute the hospital sacked him. The restrictions imposed on Dr King include having to keep the GMC informed about his employment and he can only work under supervision.”

Mr Yardley, a funeral director based in Harborne, said: “I don’t want anyone else to have to go through what I went through, and I won’t feel better about what happened to Debbie until he is struck off and his licence is revoked.

“The GMC hearing probably won’t go ahead now until December next year, when the interim order expires, but I have been told quite categorically that Dr King will never work for the trust again.”

In January, the trust admitted it had made fatal errors during Mrs Yardley’s treatment, which led to her death at Selly Oak.

Her family received a six-figure sum in compensation, and now hope there will be an inquest.

Dr Dave Rosser, the trust’s medical director, said Dr King was the second consultant to be sacked under new procedures introduced three years’ ago.

He said: “I and the rest of the trust were surprised at how serious some of the issues relating to the quality of care given by Dr King were.

“We would never allow a clinician to practise in any way that puts patients at risk.

“Patient safety is a minimum, we are very clear that our reason for existence is that patients should get the very high standards of care here.”

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