Patients speak out as surgeon who botched surgeries still working

Paul Tooth, Camilo Valero, and Lucy Wilson

Paul Tooth, Camilo Valero, and Lucy Wilson - Credit: Archant

A doctor accused of botching three operations in five days is still working at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, despite being under investigation.

Camilo Valero, a gastrointestinal surgeon, performed three gallbladder surgeries in five days, all of which left patients with life-changing injuries. 

He was first investigated by this newspaper in April and we revealed the devastating impact on patients.

Mr Valero has continued to work at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital (NNUH) for the last 21 months despite the botched operations, but is not allowed to operate on patients with bile complaints or in emergency cases, and only under supervision.

This was the temporary ruling from the General Medical Council in July 2021, despite calls from the injured patients and local MPs to suspend him.

Gastrointestinal surgeon Camilo Valero has not been suspended

Gastrointestinal surgeon Camilo Valero continues to work at the NNUH - Credit: Archant

Two of the three patients permanently damaged by Mr Valero spoke about their experiences as part of Channel 4’s Dispatches programme Clapped Out: Is The NHS Broken? 

Lucy Wilson, 34, said tearfully: "I'll never have another baby, I can't go to lunch because I have to wear a nappy.

"I'm just a shell of who I used to be, I'm just sitting in my chair at home, just waiting to die.

"I'm never gonna get better from this, this is the new me."

Paul Tooth, 64, said: "It changed my life forever. You don't expect to come out and be mutilated and have all of your insides removed.

"Because I have been so ill for so long and been on antibiotics, I have now become penicillin-resistant. My options for antibiotics to counter infections are very limited. Valero continues to work at the Norfolk and Norwich and his life continues, but mine's ruined."

Erika Denton, medical director at Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, apologised to the two patients and said: "We fully investigated and commissioned the Royal College of Surgeons to review what happened and have subsequently changed and strengthened our surgery processes."

Professor Denton has previously defended Mr Valero, saying the incidents were "tragic but unconnected" and that she would let him operate on her own children.

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If Mr Valero is referred by the General Medical Council for a hearing this will be conducted by the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service, with police awaiting the report to decide if a criminal investigation is required.

Paul Tooth and Lucy Wilson were on the same recovery ward

Paul Tooth and Lucy Wilson were on the same recovery ward but no medical staff told them they were victims of the same error-prone surgeon - Credit: Archant

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