• Surgeon accused of carrying out six “unnecessary” shoulder procedures at private hospital.
  • At least five NHS patients have instructed solicitors.
  • Surgery was carried out for same hospital group as disgraced surgeon Ian Paterson.

A surgeon has been accused of carrying out “unnecessary” shoulder operations on several NHS patients at a private hospital linked to the Ian Paterson scandal, with 217 patients recalled.

HSJ has been told at least five patients, all commissioned by the NHS, have instructed solicitors to take legal action against Habib Rahman, a consultant orthopaedic surgeon at Spire Parkway Hospital in Solihull.

Mr Rahman is accused of undertaking “unnecessary or inappropriate surgical procedures at Spire Healthcare hospitals” .

Spire has confirmed it has recalled 217 patients over the concerns.

The allegations come weeks before the findings are due from an independent inquiry into disgraced surgeon Ian Paterson – who was found guilty of wounding with intent after giving hundreds of patients unnecessary breast surgeries in Spire hospitals across the Midlands.

In a patient recall letter shared with Thompsons Solicitors by one of its clients, Spire states it commissioned the Royal College of Surgeons to conduct an independent review into Mr Habib’s practice.

The legal firm said this has resulted in a recommended review of patients who received shoulder manipulation surgery from Mr Rahman to “assess whether their care was appropriate”.

Spire told HSJ it restricted, then withdrew Mr Rahman’s practising privileges in 2018 and 2019. 

A 52-year-old woman from Solihull, who has asked not to be named, has said she was recalled by Spire in 2019 and told she had two unnecessary surgeries, in the space of two months.

The woman, who was referred to Mr Rahman by her GP, said she had two unsuccessful shoulder manipulations with Mr Rahman in June and August 2017.

She said she was still feeling pain and tingling sensations following the first procedure despite weeks of recovery time.

The woman was referred to another consultant orthopaedic surgeon at the hospital after the second operation. Under the care of the new consultant, she had an arthroscopy for her shoulder and corrective surgery on her carpal tunnel.

An MRI scan also indicated she has a rotator cuff tear, which she believes is a result of the manipulations, but this has not been confirmed, according to a statement from the solicitors.

More than two years later, she received a letter inviting her to a meeting on 3 December 2019 at Spire Parkway with a different consultant orthopaedic surgeon and a nurse advisor where she was told that both shoulder manipulations were unnecessary, and her care should have been undertaken in outpatients.

“Not only was I told my surgeries were unnecessary, but that the type of surgery I’d received from Mr Rahman wasn’t his specialist field,” said the woman, who is now represented by Thompsons.

“When I was invited in for the assessment, I asked Spire outright if they were trying to ‘get out on top’ of this issue because of Paterson, and the person that I spoke to admitted it was.”

Linda Millband, national practice lead for clinical negligence at Thompsons Solicitors who led civil claims against Spire in the wake of the Ian Paterson scandal, said: “A second patient recall and another rogue surgeon operating unnecessarily at Mr Paterson’s old private hospital suggests systemic failings.

“We are aware of this issue because, on receiving a recall letter, an ex-patient connected the dots between Spire, Paterson and our role in bringing him to justice, and reached out to us for advice. There is no evidence that Spire has publicly acknowledged the recall on its website, so we have no way of knowing how many people have been affected.”

The solicitors have not suggested they have any evidence Mr Rahman’s actions are of the same extent or severity as Mr Paterson’s.

Ms Millband added: “We currently have a handful of clients, but they could be the tip of the iceberg, so we encourage others who feel they have received similar unnecessary care from Mr Habib Rahman or indeed any other surgeon at a Spire hospital to come forward.”

Mr Paterson was convicted in 2017 of performing unnecessary breast surgery on women between 1997 and 2011. They were at several hospitals, including Spire Parkway. Speaking in 2017, then chief inspector of hospitals Sir Mike Richards said: “A key issue is about practising privileges. Are surgeons, and indeed others, undertaking similar work in the NHS and private hospitals? Ian Patterson was not.”

Spire Parkway Hospital is investigating concerns regarding Mr Rahman’s practice and is due to report to Birmingham and Solihull Clinical Commissioning Group next month. The CCG told HSJ it would “scrutinise this report thoroughly”.

A spokesman for Spire Healthcare said: “In accordance with our strict patient safety standards, we first restricted Mr Rahman’s shoulder practice in September 2018, before suspending his full Practising Privileges in January 2019 and subsequently withdrawing them in May 2019.

”During that period, we invited the Royal College of Surgeons to independently review Mr Rahman’s practice, liaising closely with his employing NHS trust, the CQC and GMC on the output of that review. Following the Royal College’s guidance, we wrote to all shoulder patients who were identified as requiring follow up to offer them a consultation with an independent surgeon to review their care and to understand more about their post-operative recovery. That process is still on-going.”

University Hospitals Birmingham FT has confirmed it employs Mr Rahman. It said since July 2019 he has been working with interim restrictions on his registration, imposed by the General Medical Council. The trust told HSJ it has not recalled any of Mr Rahman’s NHS patients. 

Under the conditions, Mr Rahman must only work at University Hospitals Birmingham FT and  be supervised in all of his posts by a clinical supervisor.

The Royal College of Surgeons has been contacted for comment.

Updated at 5.10pm 24 January, to include new information from Spire.