Doctor and NHS trust criticised over cancer patients' deaths

Dr Paul Miller
Image caption Dr Paul Miller was sacked in 2014 amid concerns over the treatment provided to 10 cancer patients

A coroner has criticised a senior doctor and NHS trust over the deaths of 10 cancer patients.

Consultant urologist Paul Miller was sacked by East Surrey Hospital in Redhill in 2014 amid concerns over the treatment given to the patients.

An inquest concluded they had all died from natural causes but there had been "missed opportunities" and "sub-optimal care".

Surrey and Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust was criticised for failing to act.

The patients, who all died between 2006 and 2015, were: Keith Reynolds, 68; Leslie Owers, 75; Lilian Cole, 82; Martin Turner, 86; Renfried Avery, 80; Frederick Le Vallois, 71; Ian Spurgeon, 85; Alan Burgess, 72; Graham Stoten, 57; and Jose Cressy, 76.

They were all treated by Mr Miller.

At the inquest in Crawley, which concluded on Friday, coroner Penelope Schofield said Mr Avery, Mr Owers and Mr Stoten died from natural causes, but that this was contributed to by neglect.

She added: "These findings point to a gross failure to provide basic medical attention."

In the case of Mr Le Vallois, the coroner said Mr Miller had delayed experimental ultrasound treatment, while a "business case" was built for the high-intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU) machine he co-owned.

This was "wholly inappropriate", she said.

Image caption The 10 cancer patients treated at East Surrey Hospital died between 2006 and 2015

Ms Schofield recorded a conclusion of death by natural causes for Mr Burgess, Ms Cressy, and Mr Le Vallois, but identified "missed opportunities" in their care.

Ms Cressy and Mr Le Vallois may have lived if opportunities to identify the extent of their cancers had not been missed, she said.

Conclusions of death by natural causes were also returned for the remaining four patients - Ms Cole, Mr Reynolds, Mr Spurgeon and Mr Turner.

The coroner found the Surrey and Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust was ill-prepared to deal with staff complaints and opportunities were missed to act on concerns over Mr Miller.

"What was going on in the urology department between 2008 and 2014 led to sub-optimal care to each and every one of the deceased," she said.

However, she said it was clear the trust had addressed many of the difficulties present during the time of the deaths.

Dr Ed Cetti, the trust's medical director, apologised to the families involved and said the culture of its organisation had since been transformed with the independent regulator rating the trust as outstanding earlier this year.

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