Two breast cancer surgeons at Stafford Hospital have spoken exclusively to the newsletter about the reasons behind their decision to refuse to participate in a review of their service by the Royal College of Surgeons.
Raafat Gendy and Raghavan Vidya said: “We are aware of the fact that some issues, which had lead to the recent unsatisfactory Cancer Peer Review in March 2012, have not been entirely resolved yet.
“Therefore we have suggested a broad based external review to the unit as soon as possible,” they said. “We have suggested to the medical director that a multi-disciplinary investigation could address the unresolved issues in the unit.”
They said: “The clinical aspect of the service in Stafford like any other breast service is monitored by regular national and regional audits and regular external reviews.
“None of these has identified concern with the clinical standards in Stafford Breast Care Unit.”
Mr Gendy and Miss Vidya said: “Even the Peer Review report did not identify any clinical concerns other than a misunderstanding about a surgical check list, which was later corrected.
“The misunderstanding was caused by the fact that the review team looked at an old form no longer used and did not notice a new form was in place.”
“The unsatisfactory Cancer Peer Review report was related to repeated problems in appointing a Lead Clinician and the uploading of incorrect Operation Policy on three occasions,” said Mr Gendy and Miss Vidya. “The breast team has worked in harmony before and had satisfactory feedback from patients, GPs and external reviewers.
“We believe it is in the interest of patient safety to take an approach based on openness and transparency in order to restore this service to what is was before.”
Mr Gendy and Miss Vidya said: “We do not believe that the Royal College of Surgeons Invited Review Mechanism would address the relevant issues because it does focus only on the surgical practice which is irrelevant to the current concerns, rather than looking at the whole service.
“However we are very keen to take part in a broad based review to the unit as soon as possible in order to restore harmony and team work to the unit as it was before.”
“We are also happy to fully co-operate with the RCS in resolving this matter as soon as possible,” they said. “The breast surgeons are the only members of the team who already had their clinical standards recently subjected to extensive external reviews.
“We believe that the issue of the RCS review in 2009 should be resolved before a new review is considered.”
Mr Gendy and Miss Vidya said: “Our views about the subject had wide support from colleagues.
"In absence of any clinical problems with the surgical care, several members of the breast multi-disciplinary team and several local general practitioners expressed the view that a review by the Royal College of the Surgeons is not only unwarranted but also would divert attention from the real problems.
“It could unnecessarily escalate patient anxiety and further destabilize the unit.”
Mr Gendy and Miss Vidya said: “We, the Surgeons in the breast service did not refuse a review of the service.
“On the contrary, we have called for a broad based review,” they added. “We understand the commissioners have first requested RCS review but later agreed to a different review and that is the view we are taking and looking forward to fully participate in it.”