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David Sellu

A patient died because of “serious errors in judgment” by a senior doctor at a private hospital in north-west London, the Old Bailey has heard.

James Hughes received “exceptionally bad” care from David Sellu after routine knee surgery at the Clementine Churchill Hospital, jurors were told.

The operation, in 2010, went well but afterwards his bowel ruptured.

Mr Sellu, who denies gross negligence manslaughter, “simply ignored” the urgency of the case, the court heard.

After the initial operation on 5 February at the hospital in Harrow, Mr Hughes, a 66-year-old retired builder from County Armagh, developed abdominal pain and was transferred to the care of Mr Sellu.

The surgeon, of Croft Close in Hillingdon, west London, has been a surgeon for four decades and specialises in colorectal surgery.

Death ‘avoidable’

Prosecutors told the court Mr Sellu suspected there had been a rupture, which is a potentially life-threatening condition that requires surgery.

But instead of immediately performing surgery he ordered a CT scan for the next day.

The scan confirmed the medic’s suspicions but he “failed” to carry out the surgery immediately and instead carried on with his own clinic, prosecutor Bobbie Cheema QC said.

Mr Hughes was sent to the operating theatre at 9pm on 12 February after being in pain for 40 hours, however, by this point, his condition had deteriorated so badly that intensive care specialists had to work to stabilise him, the court heard.

Ms Cheema told the jury that Mr Hughes was transferred to the intensive care unit after surgery but died the following day.

“That death was avoidable,” she said.

“Had (Mr Sellu) operated the night before, or even earlier on February 12, Mr Hughes would have had a very good chance of survival.”

Perjury charge

She added: “There was a series of missed opportunities and serious errors in judgment in the care of this patient and they combined to cause Mr Hughes’ death.

“The standard of care was exceptionally bad.”

Ms Cheema told the court that Mr Hughes felt he was not getting sufficient help from hospital staff and phoned a doctor friend who told him to call the surgeon who had operated on his knee.

That surgeon, John Hollingdale, visited Mr Hughes and examined him.

“He was concerned something was wrong… unrelated to his knee surgery and asked for an X-ray to be completed urgently,” Ms Cheema said.

Mr Hollingdale was “surprised” to learn the test was to be delayed until the next day as the hospital had the facilities to perform the tests around the clock, Ms Cheema told jurors.

Mr Sellu is also accused of perjury in relation to allegations he lied at under oath Mr Hughes’s inquest, which he also denies.

The trial continues.


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