Surgeon suspended from private hospital

BRONWYN TORRIE AND BLAIR ENSOR
Last updated 05:00 11/12/2012

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The Blenheim surgeon who was stood down on full pay after the death of a patient has also been suspended from doing surgery at a private hospital.

Michael Parry has been linked to another death and two other botched operations. The Zimbabwean-born general surgeon has not operated on public or private patients since May.

He was stood down from Wairau Hospital in Blenheim after Jim Nicholls, 80, suffered massive blood loss during an operation on May 24.

Southern Cross suspended Mr Parry's contract as an affiliated provider at the same time.

Churchill Private Hospital Trust general manager Nicki Bennett confirmed Mr Parry had performed general surgery at its hospital in Blenheim, but would not comment on whether any patients had laid complaints.

Mr Parry started performing surgery at Churchill after he was employed by the Nelson Marlborough District Health Board in April 2010.

Private hospital surgeons are paid by insurance companies, ACC or by patients themselves.

"We don't employ the surgeons. They're effectively self-employed," Ms Bennett said.

Mr Parry began working as a doctor in 1978 and qualified as a surgeon in 1985. He has worked in hospitals in South Africa, England and Abu Dhabi.

The head of general surgery at a hospital in Abu Dhabi would not comment on Mr Parry's length of employment, or why he left.

A coroner asked police to investigate Mr Nicholls' death, and that of Picton woman Rachel Riddell, 31, who died of significant blood loss in January 2011 after an operation performed by Mr Parry.

Coroner Carla na Nagara put her inquiry on hold on Friday while police pursued their own investigation into one of the deaths at Wairau Hospital, to determine if there was any liability or culpability.

Police were speaking to a "wide range" of people, including hospital staff, a spokeswoman said.

She would not confirm which death - Mr Nicholls' or Ms Riddell's - was being investigated, or how long the investigation was expected to take.

"It will just depend on how quickly we get to speak to who we need to and build a picture of what happened."

The Medical Council is also investigating other complaints against Mr Parry that were referred to it by the Health and Disability Commissioner.

Two women complained after they suffered serious complications during surgery by Mr Parry, and had to be sent to Christchurch Hospital for follow-up care.

Picton mother Angie Webber, 26, said she was "lucky to be alive" after going to Wairau Hospital to have her gall bladder removed in December 2010.

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A 36-year-old Upper Hutt woman also suffered complications during surgery to remove her gall bladder in February last year.

They both said police had told them they were looking at their complaints as part of their investigation.

The pair's spokeswoman, Adrien Pitcon-Mason, said that the first complaint was laid with the Health and Disability Commissioner in August last year.

- The Dominion Post

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