A paramedic from Wakefield has received compensation after being one of a number of patients recalled following misconduct by now-retired surgeon, Michael Walsh.

Carly Duffy, 45, who was referred for surgery at Spire Leeds Hospital for a shoulder injury via the NHS ‘Choose and Book’ system, recalls her first meeting with Mr Walsh as a positive experience. Both her and her mother-in-law, who accompanied her to the consultation, remarked how ‘nice’ Mr Walsh had been in the appointment.

A few weeks later, Mrs Duffy returned to the hospital for her procedure and before the surgery signed consent forms. When she left hospital later that day, she remembers being in intense pain, but believed it was only to be expected after an operation.

Mrs Duffy said: “When I got home I tried to sleep but the pain was too intense. I remember sitting on the ottoman at the bottom of my bed rocking in agony with the pain moving from my shoulder to my neck and back. In the end, my husband drove to the shop and got me some waterproof dressings and I just lay in a hot bath all night for some relief.”

Two weeks later, and still in pain, Mrs Duffy returned to the hospital for a follow up appointment only to be told that it had been cancelled and that Mr Walsh no longer worked there. Although surprised and frustrated, there was little she could do other than book another appointment a week later with a new surgeon, Mr Hackney.

At the appointment with Mr Hackney she was informed that her medical notes had disappeared along with her surgeon.

She said: “I couldn’t believe what I was hearing - I was aghast. To make matters worse, when Mr Hackney took a look at me, he came to the conclusion very quickly that, while I had been operated on, the surgery I signed the consent forms for – and believed that I had received – hadn’t actually taken place at all.”

During the appointment with Mr Hackney, Mrs Duffy underwent further x-rays and scans, received a steroid injection for her pain and was booked in for further surgery to right the wrongs of the initial procedure. That further operation took place just weeks before her wedding, which meant her scars are visible in her wedding photos and serve as a harsh reminder of what happened.

I cannot believe they let him proceed when they already knew there was cause for concern. I’m a paramedic and if I was ever under any sort of investigation, I would be removed from patient contact immediately.

Carly Duffy, our medical negligence client

Looking back, Mrs Duffy finds it hard to believe Spire’s conduct. She said: “I’ve since found out that Mr Walsh was already under investigation when I had my surgery. In fact, my operation took place on his last working day at Spire. I cannot believe they let him proceed when they already knew there was cause for concern. I’m a paramedic and if I was ever under any sort of investigation, I would be removed from patient contact immediately. I do not understand how and why they let him continue to practice.”

Mr Walsh has since been sacked by Spire Healthcare and has been reported to the General Medical Council after it was found that a number of colleagues and patients had made complaints about his work. He is now retired and no longer licensed to practise as a doctor.

She turned to medical negligence experts Thompsons Solicitors for legal support. Thompsons Solicitors is currently supporting 11 people in legal claims after suffering negligence at the hands of Mr Walsh, and Mrs Duffy’s case is the first to be settled by the firm.

Lyndsay Gibbons, a specialist in medical negligence at Thompsons Solicitors who represented Mrs Duffy, said: “It is shocking that a surgeon who was under investigation was still allowed to perform major surgery. Spire’s inability to keep their own house in order is well documented, but the fact that despite all the concern there is little evidence that better policies and procedures have been put in place to protect patients is deeply worrying.

“The bottom line with private hospitals like Spire is that they don’t have the same rules and standards as the NHS. Despite getting NHS funding for operations like Mrs Duffy’s Spire wont have had a multi-disciplinary team in place for that operation and aren’t subject to the same checks and oversights that would be in place if that operation had happened on the NHS. And that’s just wrong.”