LAX and unsafe standards at a Rotherham private hospital specialising in weight loss and cosmetic surgery have been condemned in a tribunal ruling.
A wide range of failings at the former Parkfield Hospital Ltd, in Clifton Lane, were described as “a disgrace to the provider” by tribunal judge, Nancy Hillier, who said that they were so grave that “a very serious incident could quite easily have occurred.”
The company, which operated from the premises of the long established Birkdale Clinic, offered patients cosmetic surgery, laparoscopic insertion of gastric balloons, gastric banding, laser hair removal and eye surgery, but went into administration in 2009.
The sole director of Parkfield, Dr Promod Bhatnager—who was suspended from practise by the General Medical Council in October 2009—this week tried to have a new company, Rotherham Private Hospital Ltd, registered as the provider of an independent hospital at the same location.
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But his hopes were dashed by a Health, Education and Social Care Tribunal, which rejected his plea that flawed inspections had been carried out by “biased and incompetent” inspectors and that RPH had been treated differently than other providers.
Dr Bhatnager, who is also sole director of RPH, failed to convince the tribunal that inspections carried out when Parkfield was in control should not be held against the new company as they are “entirely different legal entities.”
The tribunal heard that in July 2009, the Birkdale Clinic changed its name to Parkfield Private Hospital because Dr Bhatnager did not want the reputation of Birkdale to be tarnished by looming administration.
In October that year Parkfield went into administration.
Judge Hillier said inspections had revealed “significant and extensive breaches of the relevant standards” and the refusal to register RPH was “appropriate.”
Amongst other things, inspectors had found a “loaded, unmarked syringe” on the premises and that keys to the drugs cabinet were kept in an unlocked drawer, the tribunal heard.
Praising the diligence of the experienced and committed inspection team, Judge Hillier said that one inspection in June 2009 had “demonstrated a very wide range of failings which were a disgrace to the provider” and enforcement action against Parkfield had been “inevitable.”
She said the management ethos was to disregard national minimum standards and the Care Quality Commission and that “all is well if nothing serious has happened to the patients.”
Judge Hillier added: “As a result of the breaches, safety was potentially compromised to such an extent that a very serious incident could quite easily have occurred...the system at Parkfield was simply not safe.”
And dismissing RPH’s bid to win registration, she said: “Enforcement procedures were not evidence of bias but of necessary action to protect patients.
“There was no evidence of any change of ethos or recognition of serious failings at the Tribunal hearing, it was clear that any future compliance would be grudging, reluctant and enforced only by continuous inspections.”
Dr Bhatnager’s attitude to the drugs cabinet keys being kept in an unlocked drawer epitomised lax standards and his explanation for the unmarked loaded syringe raised very serious concerns about his attitude to compliance with basic standards, Judge Hillier concluded.