Surgeon’s conviction for manslaughter following medical negligence claim is squashed

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A surgeon who was given a two-and-a-half-year prison term after being convicted of manslaughter by gross negligence has had his conviction quashed.

Dr. David Sellu, was handed the conviction in November 2013 after his patient, James Hughes, 66, died at the Clementine Churchill Hospital in Harrow in North-West London in 2010. Hughes suffered a perforated bowel following a knee replacement.

Sellu was convicted for not having performed surgery on Hughes as soon as possible following the perforation to his bowel. He instead opted to schedule a CT scan for the following day.

The scan confirmed the rupture, however, he did not send his patient to the operating theatre until the evening,by which time it was too late.

The 69-year-old doctor was in jail for 15 months and was released in February 2015. The Crown Prosecution Service has announced that there will be no retrial.

A QC who argued on behalf of Sellu said that his conviction for gross negligence manslaughter was “unsafe” on a number of grounds and that there was new evidence that undermined the prosecution’s case.

Last year it emerged that the hospital’s owner, BMI Healthcare, had heaped blame on Sellu and had hidden an internal report that had identified systematic failings at Clementine Churchill Hospital which could have helped to clear Sullu at his initial trial in 2013.

Sellu said: “This has been an extremely difficult time for all concerned. I am thankful to have had the opportunity to appeal my conviction and clear my name, and I am relieved by the verdict.

“I’m also enormously grateful for the unfailing support of my family and friends, the Medical Protection Society and my legal team, former patients, colleagues and many others across the medical profession. I entered medicine only to do the very best for my patients, and I again express my deepest regrets to the Hughes family for their loss.”

Rob Hendry, medical director at The Medical Protection Society, said: “This was a terribly sad and tragic case for all involved.

“We are pleased Mr Sellu’s name has been cleared and continue to believe that a criminal court is rarely the best place to hold a doctor to account when things go wrong in a complex clinical environment, where there is no intent to cause harm.

“Sending doctors to prison when there is a serious adverse outcome will unfortunately only create a culture of fear, and inhibit openness and accountability in healthcare.”

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