The Sunday Times 15 March 2015
A SURGEON facing claims that he botched facial reconstruction operations on his NHS patients is offering Botox treatments and mini facelifts at a private clinic, an investigation has found.
Roger Bainton left his job as a maxillofacial specialist at the Royal Stoke University Hospital in Staffordshire earlier this year. He had been suspended on full pay for two years — at a cost of more than £250,000 — after concerns were raised about the level of care he provided.
A review by the Royal College of Surgeons of England (RCS) in September 2013, which has been seen by The Sunday Times, concluded that Bainton “did not follow current best practice” and that he “had caused irreparable damage to some patients”.
The review, based on a selection of cases, found more than a quarter of people treated by him for jaw problems had suffered complications and that he had left “a legacy of patients who have had unproven surgical techniques . . . and who will likely require long-term follow-up”.
Despite the findings, many of which Bainton disputes, the 68-year-old surgeon has been legitimately able to offer cosmetic surgery at Aesthetics Aberdeen, his clinic in northeast Scotland.
On its website, Aesthetics Aberdeen, which was set up in 2009, offers treatments ranging from Botox injections and eyelid rejuvenation to mini facelifts and minor skin surgery. It features a biography of Bainton who, it says, “brings a commitment to perform the art and science of aesthetic medicine and surgery to its highest degree”.
However, the website makes no mention of Bainton’s suspension from the Royal Stoke University Hospital — formerly the University Hospital of North Staffordshire — nor the severe reprimand that he was given by the General Medical Council (GMC) in 2000.
The censure was issued when Bainton was found guilty of serious professional misconduct over the death of a patient who suffered a heart attack following post-operative complications at Bainton’s previous hospital, Aberdeen Royal Infirmary. During that hearing, Bainton, who was also suspended for a year by the General Dental Council over the death, said: “I wish I could turn the clock back.”
In a telephone call last week with a reporter posing as a potential client for Aesthetics Aberdeen, Bainton said he had retired from the NHS in February and confirmed that he would carry out “invasive and non-invasive” procedures.
In an apparent reference to cowboy operators within the cosmetic surgery industry, he said: “We are ethical, believe it or not. I know there are clinics which are not, to be honest they should be wearing a stetson and spurs.”
The GMC has imposed restrictions on what work Bainton can do but his private cosmetic work does not breach those restrictions nor any other legal or professional rules.
His case may, however, reignite concerns about the cosmetic surgery industry.
The British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons, the industry body that is calling for better regulation, said Bainton was not a member.
News that Bainton is working to improve the looks of patients at Aesthetic Aberdeen is also likely to dismay some of his former NHS patients who claim they were left with facial deformities, eyesight problems and nerve damage following operations that he performed.
They include retired nurse Gail Hope, 62, who said she had been left with a hole in the roof of her mouth after a dozen operations conducted by Bainton since 2008. “My face has been destroyed and it is even more distorted when I smile,” she said. “Each operation was to correct damage done by the one before. I feel such a fool that even as a professional person I could be so taken in.”
Kelly Challinor, 33, who broke her nose by falling downstairs, said she woke up from corrective surgery to find Bainton had removed the end of her nose.“When I asked him about it afterwards he said he thought I would be pleased because it would have cost £5,000 to have it done privately,” she claimed.
Roger Bainton now works at a private clinic Since Bainton’s suspension, University Hospitals of North Midlands NHS Trust (UHNM), which employed him, initially as a locum, from 2003, has reviewed the treatment of 428 of his patients. The process has so far identified 15 who had “suffered harm”.
The trust has agreed that Paul Balen, of Freeths law firm, can lead lawyers representing more than 100 of Bainton’s former patients who are expected to submit claims for damages.
“It is disappointing . . . that yet another errant doctor has been harboured by the NHS when his background must have been known,” said Balen. “Lessons must be learnt.”
UHNM said it was unable to say if Bainton had been sacked or had chosen to leave. It would not disclose if he had received a severance package.
Robert Courteney-Harris, medical director at UHNM, said: “On behalf of University Hospitals I should like to express my sincere regret and apologies to any patients who have, or may have, been harmed.”
Bainton said he has been advised not to comment on the events at UHNM but added: “There is a can of worms in the trust. I have my views on what’s gone on but I can’t elaborate. There is no string of disasters.”
Asked about his work at Aesthetics Aberdeen, Bainton hung up and did not respond to further requests for comment.
The GMC said: “Dr Bainton has been subject to restrictions since 2013 while we look into serious concerns about his practice. We do not comment in more detail about an investigation that is ongoing.”