Senior surgeon at private hospital jailed over death of Northern Ireland patient
Retired Co Armagh builder James Hughes (66) died at the Clementine Churchill Hospital in Harrow
A senior doctor has been jailed for two-and-a-half-years over the death of a Co Armagh patient at a private hospital.
Surgeon David Sellu (66) was found guilty of gross negligence manslaughter over the death of father-of-six James Hughes.
Mr Hughes, also 66, died at the Clementine Churchill Hospital in Harrow, north west London, on February 14, 2010 after falling unexpectedly ill following knee surgery.
His wife, Ann, described the suffering experienced by the family in a victim impact statement put before the court.
"For three years we have struggled to discover and then accept the truth of what happened to Jim," she wrote.
"The world does not stand still but for us we have been subjected to a tortuous purgatory that can only be brought to an end by truth and justice.
"Our trust in normal processes, authorities and structures of society was shattered by the inexplicable, callous and deceitful actions of the medical profession entrusted with the most basic responsibility to protect human life."
The judge, Mr Justice Nicol, asked prosecutor Bobbie Cheema QC to read out extracts of the full statement in court.
Mr Hughes, a retired builder, had a planned left knee replacement on February 5, 2010.
The operation went well but while recovering from surgery he developed abdominal pain and was transferred to the care of Sellu, who has been a doctor for four decades.
Sellu suspected that there had been a rupture in Mr Hughes' bowel - a potentially life-threatening condition that requires surgery - but the surgeon ignored the urgency that the case demanded and the patient later died.
In his sentencing remarks, Mr Justice Nicol said: "Even if you had acted more speedily, there was a chance that Mr Hughes would have died anyway. There is always such a risk with major abdominal surgery of the kind which he needed.
"But the chance would have been very, very much smaller if you had acted as a reasonable surgeon would have done on the Thursday night.
"The risks would have increased if the operation had not taken place until Friday morning and would have got progressively larger as the day went on, but at each stage the chances of his survival would still have been better than when he finally did get to the operating theatre late in the evening of Friday 12 February."
He added: "It was you who was responsible for determining his treatment.
"It is your several failures in that regard which amounted to gross negligence. I am afraid that it means your culpability is high.
"And that negligence contributed significantly to the death of Mr Hughes."
Belfast Telegraph Digital