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By Ian Dipple Sunday 23 February 2014 Updated: 23/02 23:32
A POLICE investigation has been launched into the deaths of patients under the care of a consultant surgeon who worked at the Alexandra Hospital.
North Worcestershire Police opened the investigation into Sudip Sarker following a letter airing concerns which the force received in December last year.
Supt Kevin Purcell said they could not be specific about the number of deaths they were looking into but the inquiry did include three patients who died under Mr Sarker's care and whose joint inquest was adjourned in December, 2013.
"We were made aware that there were a number of concerns in relation to the deaths of patients in 2012 who had been under Mr Sarker’s care. We are in the early stages of obtaining the relevant information from hospitals and other health organisations in order to conduct our investigation," he said.
"This is a complex matter which will undoubtedly take a considerable amount of time to investigate thoroughly.
"We are very mindful of the importance of patient confidentiality and the impact on the wider community. We will continue to liaise with the key partner agencies involved and people can rest assured that we will be conducting our inquiries in a sensitive and appropriate manner as befitting an investigation of this nature."
Mr Sarker was excluded by Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust in October 2012 following concerns about the deaths of more than ten people under the care of the consultant colorectal surgeon, who specialised in colon and bowel cancer treatment.
He was employed by the Trust in August 2011 and operated at both the Alexandra and Worcestershire Royal Hospital as well as a number of private hospitals.
In a statement Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust said: "Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust is co-operating fully with the police on their investigation into one of its colorectal surgeons, Mr Sudip Sarker.
"The Trust would like to reassure patients and their relatives that as soon as it became aware there was a potential problem the Trust acted swiftly and responsibly to protect its patients. It alerted the Royal College of Surgeons in July 2012 and asked them to review his clinical practice. While the review was on-going the Trust put restrictions on the surgeon’s practice. He was excluded from the Trust in October 2012.
"An expert multidisciplinary team has reviewed the medical records of all his patients who had undergone a major operation (eg for bowel cancer). Patients we were concerned about were recalled for further assessment and appropriate investigations. A separate review of all patients who had any contact with Mr Sarker (outpatient appointments or minor procedures) is being performed by a team of specialist external surgeons. Patients in this group who require further assessment/ investigation are also being invited back to the hospital.
"The Trust has set up an enquiry line for any patient who is concerned about the treatment they have received. The number is 01527 503812 and it is operational during normal working hours. There is also a dedicated e-mail address email@example.com"
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