Leicester Royal Infirmary: 13 'harmed' by surgeons

Sign outside the Leicester Royal Infirmary Image copyright Richard Vernalls/PA Wire
Image caption The hospital has contacted 101 people who had surgery in that seven-year period

An NHS Trust has apologised after 13 cancer patients suffered physical harm following reconstructive surgery.

Leicester Royal Infirmary's maxillofacial surgery service helped people following head and neck cancer.

Patients who used the service between 2009 and 2016 have since had problems eating, swallowing and talking.

The service was suspended in November 2016 following a visit from the Royal College of Surgeons, after dental trainees raised safety concerns.

The hospital has since contacted 101 people who had surgery in that seven-year period who might have been harmed; 13 of whom said they felt they had "definitely suffered physical harm".

One person suggested they had suffered "psychological harm".

However, 56 of those contacted have yet to respond.

Image caption Andrew Furlong apologised to the patients

Andrew Furlong, medical director at University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust, said he would like to apologise on behalf of the trust and the board.

"I would also like to offer my personal apologies and say how disappointed I am that this has happened," he added.

He said as well as some patients suffering from problems eating, drinking, swallowing and talking, the cosmetic results of the surgery "weren't as good as they could have been if different reconstructive techniques had been used".

Rob Sissons, health correspondent for the East Midlands

This case raises big questions about how failings in the NHS are covered and whether enough data is collected, analysed and peer reviewed by others working in the same specialist areas across the UK.

It took dental trainees to raise the alarm in Leicester, shining a light on what was going on, but the data collected in the unit would not have exposed what had happened.

The trust is now working with NHS England on improvements to minimise the risk of it happening again.

The full extent of the physical harm done to patients may never be known as many patients have so far not come forward.

The NHS has only been able to go back seven years as records are only kept that long.

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