Jacqui has been forced to seek repair surgery in the USA, following botched mesh surgery carried out by Tony Dixon.
Ahead of Tony Dixon’s Medical Practitioners Tribunal on 11 September, a mum of two has spoken of her anger at how she, and countless others, have been treated by the Bristol surgeon.
Jacqui Shaw, a 56-year-old company secretary from Staffordshire, is still experiencing pain 15 years after undergoing mesh surgery at the hands of Dixon.
Mrs Shaw, who successfully secured a payout for medical negligence in May with the support of national law firm, Thompsons Solicitors, is hoping the upcoming tribunal will help draw a line under a truly harrowing experience for both her and her family.
Jacqui is still in pain 15 years on
The hearing, which takes place in Manchester between 11 September and 24 November, will look into allegations that Mr Dixon failed to provide adequate clinical care to six patients at Southmead Hospital and the private Spire Hospital in Bristol, between 2010 and 2016. Mrs Shaw’s health problems started in 2007, when she had a prolapse and problems with her bowels.
Following several appointments locally, she was referred to Spire Bristol under the supervision of Mr Dixon, who at the time was described as a “pioneer” delivering “gold standard” rectopexy surgery.
Trusting the recommendation, Mrs Shaw underwent rectocele surgery in 2008. She was not given much detail, but was assured by Mr Dixon that the mesh would hold everything in place and solve her issues.
The morning after the operation, she woke up in tremendous pain but was told by the medical team that everything had gone well. However, 48 hours later, she noticed that the bulge, which should have been removed, was still there and nothing had changed. Mrs Shaw’s health started to deteriorate, and she developed a chest infection and shingles.
In a desperate call to Mr Dixon, she was told that the best course of action would be a stapled transanal rectal resection operation, known as a STARR procedure. It was described to her as making some “tweaks” to the initial surgery.
Mrs Shaw said: “They told me I was a difficult case because I was such a mess in that area. What choice did I have but to go back under the knife?”
The mum-of-two hopes Tony Dixon will be struck off
She underwent the STARR operation in 2009, which did improve things somewhat, but Mrs Shaw was still not in control of her bowel movements and remained in discomfort. Twelve months later, she started experiencing excruciating back pain. It got so bad that she had difficulty walking, to the point where she fell and broke her coccyx. The advice was for her to have yet more surgery.
In a state of disbelief that her pain and difficulties were persisting, Mrs Shaw started asking questions about the original mesh surgery, believing the issues were related.
Unhappy and concerned with Mr Dixon’s evasive and abrupt replies, she got a second opinion and discovered that her medical notes showed a host of failings around consent and that the STARR surgery - the second operation - should never have been allowed to go ahead after the first operation.
Drawing parallels with the recent Lucy Letby case, Mrs Shaw believes that whistleblowers within the healthcare system are not being taken seriously enough. She argues that a wholesale cultural shift is needed to ensure patient safety.
Mrs Shaw said: “Tony Dixon should be struck off the medical register and have all of his privileges revoked. He didn’t take my concerns seriously and has behaved arrogantly throughout this whole ordeal.
“What’s made me so angry is the lack of transparency and accountability. In retrospect, it felt like I was being used as a guinea pig for a wholly unnecessary medical experiment.
“I wasn’t given access to my medical notes. How can that be right? I had no real idea whether I required the invasive surgery I was subjected to. I had no recourse. It was a case of ‘trust us’ and ‘no need to ask questions’.
“The whole culture needs changing. Patients should be listened to and not palmed off. I’ve also heard that one of Mr Dixon’s colleagues, who raised concerns about his behaviour, was not listened to.
“We need an independent body to provide checks and balances on the practices of senior leadership within our healthcare system, so that others don’t suffer at the hands of negligent medical professionals.”
Over a decade on, Mrs Shaw has returned from St Louis, USA, having undergone mesh removal surgery in June. It’s early days in her recovery, and despite still experiencing some nerve damage and pain, she no longer needs a stoma.
Mrs Shaw added: “I had to resort to undergoing surgery in St Louis to remove the mesh because all the UK surgeons were telling me that if they were to carry it out, I would need a stoma.
“I’ve had no help from UK mesh centres. I’ve enlisted the help of my MP to try to improve the treatment patients are receiving in this country.
“I hit rock bottom a few years ago as the struggle just got too much for me. The only thing that has kept me going is my family. I have the most amazing husband who cannot do enough for me, as well as two wonderful sons who make life worth living.
“Now, I’m hoping that the upcoming tribunal will get to the truth about how Mr Dixon was able to practice, seemingly with impunity.”
In December 2018, Mr Dixon underwent a GMC (General Medical Council) assessment and was found to be "unacceptable" in the areas of assessment of pelvic floor patients, clinical management of pelvic floor patients and working with colleagues.
Mr Dixon, who was dismissed in 2019, has always maintained the mesh operations were carried out in good faith, and that any surgery could have complications.
Linda Millband, national head of clinical negligence group actions at Thompsons Solicitors, said: “Jacqui trusted her surgeon but was badly let down and, sadly, she isn’t alone. Many other former patients have reported Mr Dixon to the GMC.
“The growing horror of mesh surgery continues to shock us all. We are supporting more than 400 people with a mesh claim, and there are thousands more who are living in pain, unaware it is mesh to blame.
“Through our campaign, Say No To Mesh, we aim to raise awareness of the complications of mesh surgery and offer legal recourse wherever possible.
“We hope the medical practitioners tribunal will provide much-needed answers and accountability, not only for the six individuals involved, but the hundreds of former patients of Mr Dixon.”
Jacqui Shaw co-runs the Mesh Rectopexy Support and Action Group UK. Find more information here.
People who are worried that they may be affected by mesh, can contact Thompsons’ legal advice line on 0800 0 224 224.