Researching something else earlier, I found details about solicitor Paul Burton who was left with post lasik problems after being operated on by Dr Anupam Chatterjee at Ultralase Chester clinic in 2000.
Suffering severe blurred vision, and problems driving at night, the side effects Paul describes are exactly the same as thousands of us continue to suffer after laser eye surgery sixteen years on - so much for new improved laser technology!
I know of only one complaint to the GMC from a damaged laser patient when any action was taken against the surgeon responsible.
In 2005, children’s author and illustrator Jan Fearnley had lasik surgery also at Ultralase. The surgeon Dr Haralabos Eleftheriadis irreparably damaged Jan’s eyes by tearing her cornea leaving her with irreversible scarring and blurred vision. He then lied when she complained about her poor vision, saying that she was mistaken and imagining it!
The GMC ruled that Dr Haralabos Eleftheriadis’ actions were ‘inappropriate, unprofessional and not in Mrs Fearnley’s best interests’. However, they did not suspend his registration, or take any other action, after Eleftheriadis agreed to training and supervision.
In response to my complaint to the GMC that documents requested under my FOI request were withheld and/or redacted, yesterday Julian Graves, Information Access Manager, wrote that he was satisfied that redactions were ‘accurate and appropriate’!
Accordingly, I sent my complaint to the ICO this afternoon.
This involved cross referencing GMC documents with those sent to me from Optimax in response to my SAR.
Amongst the GMC docs I was shocked to find an Optimax internal email from Dr Wilbert Hoe, written 3 weeks and 4 days after my surgery on 18 February 2011 - 3 weeks according to the Hoe, who obviously has a problem with numbers!
Perhaps why my eyes are irreparably damaged!
• The Hoe admits he offered me lasik OR lasek just before surgery - contrary to ALL guidelines. I was therefore, by his own admission, not fully consented.
• As I never saw him again after surgery I fail to understand how he was able to comment that I had ‘good distance vision although slightly hyperopic’!
For the record, ‘good vision’ meant that I could have seen the Eiffel Tower from my house if I’d known where to look (not any more), but in exchange I had unwittingly sacrificed my perfect near vision! That, and the starbursts, are probably my most mourned losses!
• The Hoe's claim that he gave me ‘a detailed explanation of MMC' is a total lie and sickening!! The truth is that he literally thrust the 2 page document in front of me, with no chance to read, and asked me to sign it.
• ‘Presbyopia due to her age' - I had PERFECT unaided close up vision pre surgery!
I couldn’t be more devastated about the state of my eyes, but when I read the Hoe’s email I was speechless - and given how I’m feeling right now he should seriously consider relocating back to Burma!
Lack of transparency runs through the GMC like a stick of rock
Following my GMC complaint in 2015, on 21 July 2016 I received this, 'We have finished our investigation into your concerns about Mr Hoe and the case examiners concluded that we do not need to take any action against his registration.’
As I intend to appeal this decision I sent an FOI request a few days later and received documents on 9 September.
Not only have they failed to provide information I know they have in their possession - not least because some was referred to in their response to my original complaint - but the redactions are simply astounding!
The GMC Information Access Manager responsible called me on Tuesday, when I warned him that they have until Friday to provide ALL documentation I am entitled to, without unmerited redactions, otherwise I am opening a complaint with the ICO.
Re the expert 'Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon' who reviewed my complaint against Dr Hoe: in the same way that Bernie Chang was involved in the MPlus X lens MHRA investigation, employed by Optegra who themselves fitted the lens (his ID inadvertently revealed by Bernie himself), the anonymity of such experts is a serious bone of contention with me given the incestuous nature of this industry.
'We are unable to provide you with the identity of the expert who provided a report for the GMC as to do so would be in breach of the DPA.’
It should be considered that, in my case, there are few ophthalmic surgeons who do not know of me, and I know most of them. Therefore, surely I have the right to know who reviewed my complaint?
After all, it could have been David Teenan, or one of the many other surgeons I have named and shamed!
The anonymous expert wrote, 'In this case, slight over-correction into a hypermetropic refraction has caused Patient A (me) significant distress.'
My current reading prescription is now +4.25(R)/+3.75(L), and I can see nothing clearly without glasses. I also suffer multiple debilitating side effects, including MGD, glare/starbursts, photophobia, DES, etc…
Pre surgery I had no visual problems - not even DES - with perfect unaided near vision, and I wore glasses for distance, prescription -4.25(R)/-4.00(L)
'SLIGHT OVERCORRECTION' MY A**!!!
The expert also wrote, 'In terms of her refractive surgery I would have said that Lasek would be the most appropriate for Patient A rather than intra-ocular surgery.’
Uh?! What relevance does IOL have to my complaint? (Although, I was fifty seven when I had lasek, perfect age for lens exchange according to all who sell it!)
• 'In summary, Patient A has been counselled by optometrists employed by Optimax Laser Eye Surgery specialists who have processed her application and allowed her to progress to meet the ophthalmic surgeon, Mr H on the day of surgery, therefore minimal amount of counselling with the ophthalmic surgeon has been undertaken. This is contrary to the Royal College Guidelines and standards for laser refractive surgery. Information for patients should be in written format in language that they can understand along with specific risks and complications associated with this surgery. For this reason this fell seriously below the standard expected of a reasonably competent ophthalmologist/refraction surgeon.'
• ‘The overall standard of care was below the standard expected of a reasonably competent ophthalmologist carrying out refractive surgery due to inadequate patient preparation and detailed consent. The lack of written clinical history and formal discussion of potential post-operative problems fell seriously below the standard expected. When considering the additional consent form brought in at the last minute and the inability to prepare or deal with the over-correction, patient expectations were not met therefore Patient A was inadequately prepared prior to the surgery.'
• 'I trust that this explanation is sufficient and in my opinion the only breach of care that I can identify is inadequate counselling for consent and consent for the refractive surgery part being supervised by someone other than the surgeon undertaking the work, although the separate consent form for Mitomycin C has been supervised by the surgeon. However, its introduction as a last minute level of consent is inappropriate and does not conform to good medical practice.'
• 'The combination of these practises fell below and seriously below the standard expected of a reasonably competent ophthalmologist/refraction surgeon.'
And the GMC closed my case - just as they have every other complaint made by damaged refractive surgery patients!
As I have told GMC staff on numerous occasions, they are not fit for purpose!
Sickeningly, the expert relied on the Royal College of Ophthalmologists 'STANDARDS FOR LASER REFRACTIVE SURGERY 2009' as reference - currently being rewritten by the RSSWG, the panel I was appointed to as lay representative in May 2015 but subsequently removed from in June to keep David Moulsdale happy!
In fact, I now understand that the College Trustees used David’s complaint as an excuse to remove me, as none of them wanted me involved in writing new standards.
GMC, CQC, RCOphth... no words to describe what I think of them - that I can publish here that is!
Reading through the case details of the GMC Decision I noticed this, ‘Optimax’s CEO reported no other concerns… She said…'
‘She’? Surely a typing error, because Optimax CEO is Russell Ambrose - I thought!
So I called the GMC, who surprisingly advised me that documents sent from Optimax were signed by Beata McManus as CEO.
I have had no dealings with Beata and had never heard of her, until last year when she was mentioned in emails sent to me from disgruntled Optimax employees, and in a number of forum posts here on OERML, none of which I published because I am unable to approve posts that include unsubstantiated and salacious allegations.
admin wrote: It’s therefore time that the GMC started looking out for the welfare of patients instead of protecting negligent and unregulated surgeons."
This morning I finally received the decision from the GMC re my complaint against Optimax surgeon (Dr Wilbert Hoe) who irreparably damaged my eyes on 18 February 2011.
Two months overdue, the GMC apologised for the delay a few weeks ago, explaining that my case was still with the case examiners. I wasn’t surprised as they of course know who I am - and what I do with any information I consider to be of public interest!
The decision is as I expected, the same one everyone receives in response to their complaint against the surgeon who damaged their eyes!
It might sound odd, but I’m ecstatic with this decision!
I have been openly critical of the GMC for a number of years, anxious to expose the organisation as 'not fit for purpose'… and inadvertently they’ve now opened a can of worms that I will use to my advantage and publicise in every way I can!
I have nothing but praise for the ‘Independent Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon’ instructed by the GMC to provide an expert opinion. (I have asked for his/her name to be provided.)
Had I not settled out of court with Russell Ambrose but instead gone into litigation, with this as a medicolegal report I have no doubt that I'd have won the case on the grounds of lack of informed consent alone, as did Stephanie Holloway v Optical Express/Joanna McGraw!
At a later date I will publish the report in full, but until then, a few examples of the expert’s opinion - who was very critical of the high street industry:
• Mr H’s pre-operative preparations appear to be minimal and there is no record of Mr H obtaining an adequate and appropriate history.
• The limited amount of discussion pre-operatively meant that Mr H did not adequately counsel Patient A (me) regarding her surgical expectations. This unfortunately is the standard practice in the high volume environment of Laser Refractive surgery which distorts the concept of a patient consultant discourse that results in a management policy. The practitioner turns up to activate the laser as others, less qualified, have assessed the patient and their ability to pay for the procedure. Therefore, the discussion on management falls seriously below that expected of a consultant ophthalmologist.
• The pre-operative consent was as already indicated not entirely obtained by Mr H and what was obtained by Mr H was a last minute alteration to management and certainly did not conform to the Royal College Guidelines and good medical practice for refractive surgery.
• It would appear that very little discussion was conducted post-operatively with Mr H, most of the discussion has been with the management and optometry staff within Optimax. This lack of post-operative communication and support falls seriously below the standards expected of a consultant ophthalmologist.
(NB: I met Dr Hoe for the first time on the day of surgery and have had NO discussion with him since)
• Mr H’s records are of a personal nature non-existent, he has depended entirely on Optimax records which are in the main pre-populated lists and boxed answers which attempt to remove the need for adequate clinical history and assessment within a case like this would appear to create an inadequate series of clinical records. The lack of clinical comment in the written form is a serious lack of standard, which in this case falls seriously below the standard that is expected of an independent practitioner working in this field...
• As the consent appears to be countersigned by a non-medical professional and consent for Mitomycin C (MMC) was immediately prior to treatment, these activities fell seriously below the standard expected of a reasonably competent ophthalmologist/refraction surgeon.
It goes on, with the expert highly critical of the practices within the high street industry.
In their 'Reasons for decision' section, the GMC noted, 'We do not underestimate the distress Ms Rodoy has experienced. Her complaint about Mr Hoe (essentially that he did not check she understood the risks associated with her treatment) is serious. Her evidence about this is largely contradicted by the records and, in particular, emails from Mr Hoe and the optometrist who saw her.*
The expert’s criticisms appear to be as much about the laser refractive surgery industry as about Mr Hoe and, if the expert’s description of industry practices is accurate, we are concerned that the expert may have assessed him against an unrealistic benchmark** for purposes of our decision.'
*I have seen no such emails and have asked the GMC for copies. If they exist Optimax were legally bound to disclose these to me under my SAR last year.
**Speechless - these are my precious eyes we're talking about!
The final paragraph states, ‘Further, we do not consider that there is a realistic prospect of a finding of impairment solely in order to maintain public confidence in the profession.’
Oh dear, that doesn't inspire confidence or trust in the GMC!
There are major flaws in the fourteen page report and I am challenging their decision.
In 2015 I also lodged a complaint with the GOC against Optimax optometrist Swati Malkan.
The GOC similarly dismissed my complaint against Ms Malkan, who wrote that she had no recollection of meeting me, and - I quote, ‘I do not recall Patient A (me) and hence am reliant on my notes of the examination…'
Her five page response to my complaint was a pack of lies, obviously written by Optimax’ in-house solicitor, mostly detailing information she claimed was given to me before taking my money, that I’d been fully informed of all the risks etc…
In my (unsuccessful) appeal I pointed out that if Ms Malkan didn’t remember me then how did she know what she had discussed with me!
I have no idea how it entered the GMC investigation (I will find out), but a retrospective statement from Ms Malkan includes this, 'I remember this px v well as she stood out… In the staff room during lunch we were discussing this px as she had given a hard time to everyone involved.’
Ms Malkan has undeniably lied - to both the GOC and GMC (and of course to me in 2011)!
I have spoken with both organisations and look forward to further investigations asap
It seems the GMC will only take action against a surgeon if he sexually abuses a patient!
Yet last month Health Minister Ben Gummer wrote to Theresa Villiers assuring her that the GMC/RCOphth/CQC are working together to ‘strengthen public protection in this area’ (refractive eye surgery), and that the GMC has a duty to 'safeguard the well-being of the public' - I’ll publish his letter later.
In that case, why I am I still contacted day after day by damaged patients?
Meanwhile, somewhat worrying that Dr Kazakos is being sued by a significant number of his patients while the GMC close complaint after complaint with no action taken against him - or any of his colleagues similarly with multiple claims against them!
But hey ho, Optical Express are dealing with it in-house and the MPS have made Dr Kazakos attend a workshop to improve his communication skills!
Just a thought, how about improving his surgical skills instead?
For the avoidance of doubt, the GMC have found no reason to take action against Dimitris Kazakos and his record (currently) remains unblemished. The following report is therefore unavailable to the public anywhere else.
I spoke with the GMC earlier to advise that I intended to publish this as I see no reason why the full facts should not be publicised if Dr Dimitris Kazakos has nothing to hide.
Methinks it's perhaps time to send out more SARs and FOI requests...
• Mrs B was one of an unknown number of patients who consented for Femtosecond laser surgery @ Westfield but didn't receive it because the machine was out of order from February to March 2015.
• The GMC have missed the fact that OE charge more money for femtosecond surgery than for blade cut.
Note to OE: My campaign is fighting for government regulation, not targeting you.
You have repeatedly claimed to the press, RCOphth, MPs, and others, that I have a ‘vendetta’ against OE, while being fully aware that a settlement agreement included a ‘gagging order’ which prevents me from speaking out about my own treatment at Optimax. This is why OERML has become the epicentre of what I do - open to all!
Clean up your act, work with me, and life would be easier for all of us - not least the thousands of patients you continue to damage!
But we all know this is never going to happen because money is at the heart of what you and your competitors do.
I registered a complaint with the GMC on 4th Nov 2015 and they asked for further information :
I wrote "Dr Seethappa Madhusudhan performed (Lasik) Laser Eye Surgery to both of my eyes on the 24th November 2012. My life was destroyed on that day. My quality of vision is terrible and this has a serious affect on my quality of life. I have suffered severe depression as a result and have been suicidal. I have blurry double vision, dry eye and constant headaches and eye strain. My complaint is that I was only seen by Dr Seethappa Madhusudhan for a maximum of FIVE minutes on the day that I had the surgery. I never met him before that, I was only seen by the girls in the Optimax clinic. I was naive. I took this as normal. However looking back at the consent form there is a Surgeon's Declaration for him to sign to say that he has discussed the contents of the form with the patient and is satisfied that I understand the meaning of the techical terms which it contains. This is Absolutely untrue, Dr Seethappa Madhusudhan NEVER had the time with me to discuss all 44 points on the consent form. Yes 44!! I am horrified at the experience that I have been through and will continue to have to deal with on my own for the rest of my life. Optimax aren't interested in helping me. Optimax only care about making money and do not care that they are ruining peoples lives. I want to save others from going through what I have. This is an extremely serious issue and I would be grateful if you could please investigate."
I am horrified with their comment "Our medically trained colleague has advised that the symptoms you are now experiencing are recognised side effects from laser eye surgery"
So, suicidal thoughts is a recognised side effect?
This is absolutely disgusting, I am trying to make the GMC aware of what laser eye surgery can do to a person, I am trying to save others from going through what I have.
I thought the GMC were supposed to help people - oh silly me, they are, the rich businessmen that own these high street laser eye clinics.
I have been brushed off with an offensive letter.
After the devastating results of my surgery in 2011 I didn’t complain to the GMC (or the GOC) because at that time I was new to this and didn’t know that I should. It was only when Russell Ambrose forced me to take legal action against him that I made complaints to both organisations.
While my GOC complaint against the Optimax optom is still under investigation, last Friday I submitted the final13 documents to the GMC in support of my complaint against Dr Hoe, the surgeon who irreparably damaged my eyes in 2011. I also sent a personal statement detailing why I consider Dr Hoe was negligent, not least by failing to fully consent me, both for surgery and the use of the unlicensed drug MMC.
I am not going to publish more details until I hear what the GMC decide to do, but anyone yet to submit their own complaint is welcome to contact me for information.
I added this note at the end of my statement to the GMC:
"Due to the devastating effects this surgery had on my life I am now an active campaigner and work closely with Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell fighting for the government to regulate the refractive eye surgery industry. I am also a patient advocate helping countless numbers of damaged patients. I am aware of many complaints made to the GMC against surgeons who mostly work for the high street clinics, and I have seen too many GMC letters dismissing every single complaint.
Drs David Teenan, Andre Oberholster, Dimitris Kazakos, Jan Venter, Stefan Klopper and Joanna McGraw are just some of the many surgeons with multiple legal claims against them, a few already settled in the patients’ favour, yet the GMC have not upheld even one complaint to date.
Both Stephanie Holloway and Craig Mellor had their complaints reopened by the GMC and unbelievably closed for a second time. I have read all their reports and it is of great concern that the GMC irresponsibly allows surgeons to continue damaging people’s eyes, safe in the knowledge that any complaints made against them will be closed,.
I have read GMC independent reports stating that, ”It is my opinion that the overall care provided to Patient A falls below the standard to be expected of a reasonably competent Consultant ophthalmologist…”, followed by, “In my opinion the overall standard of care does not fall seriously below that to be expected of a reasonably competent Consultant ophthalmologist…”. (Bold text used by GMC ind expert)
This begs the question, what does it take for the GMC to get off the fence and rule in the favour of the many thousands of patients left irreparably damaged by "reasonably competent Consultant ophthalmologists”? Sexual abuse perhaps? Because damaging people’s eyes and ruining their lives is obviously not "serious” enough for the GMC to even reprimand the surgeons responsible!
I have no doubt my complaint will similarly be dismissed at some point, but eventually the truth of what is going on within this industry will be fully publicised and all those culpable will have to explain why they did nothing to stop this horrific scandal continuing.
It’s therefore time that the GMC started looking out for the welfare of patients instead of protecting negligent and unregulated surgeons.”
In my opinion, the majority of surgeons employed by unethical businessmen are abusing their positions as doctors, none complying with the RCOphth Guidelines and the GMC Good medical practice guidance.
Although the GMC have proved to be as impotent as every other organisation we expect(ed) to protect the welfare of patients, it is worth logging your complaint with them simply to show what action they don't take against negligent surgeons.
As patient advocate I advise my clients to register their complaint with the GMC, but I didn't take my own advice because I was told that the surgeon who operated on my eyes on 18 February 2011 had retired.
However, I have discovered that Dr Wilbert Hoe is currently employed as Locum Associate Specialist at an NHS hospital.
I have therefore launched my complaint with the GMC today, and will be fascinated to see what they do with it.
Dr Hoe is the one on the right
And no, the man wearing sunglasses is not one of his damaged patients, he is an abbott from Burma!
While Dr Hoe is the face of my nightmares, many thousands of other people owe him a debt of gratitude, because, if not for Dr Hoe, I would not be in the position I am and there would be no OERML and no MBE campaign!