Supporting patients investigate potential spinal surgery negligence claims

John Bradley Williamson

In March 2023 our expert medical negligence team requested more transparency into the results of an inquiry about spinal surgeon John Bradley Williamson, dealing with negligent treatment that was highlighted. We are searching for clarity and to ensure that everyone who has been affected has been informed and supported appropriately.

Since the request, there has been no published report of the outcomes and it’s been speculated that a number of patients have been asked to be part of an informal review.

As a specialist spinal surgeon, Williamson treated patients for scoliosis at Salford Royal, The Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital and the nearby private Spire Hospital . He started working at Salford Royal Hospital in 1996 and sacked by the trust in 2015. However, in September 2022, more than 100 of Mr Williamson’s former patients were recalled for an assessment by surgeons at the Northern Care Alliance Trust, which now runs the hospital.

Our team are also aware that The Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital may be undertaking their own review of patients who were treated by Mr Williamson whilst they were a child. Patient Claim Line is helping people who are navigating this process so if you are one of these people contact us for a Free assessment.

Patient Claim Line are supporting a former patient who was part of this review and help them understand how they can seek justice for negligent treatment. Our client, now in his 30s, underwent spinal surgery for a pre-existing condition which affects his bones and muscles at Salford Royal Hospital in 2012. In 2022 he received a text asking him to contact Salford Royal to discuss concerns relating to his treatment, and that several failings had been identified, including the use of an out-of-date MRI scan resulting in the screws inserted during the surgery being put in the wrong place. This was reviewed in the investigation and it concluded that had the scan been up to date, the complications experienced by our client ‘may have been preventable’, and that if an MRI scan had been performed before to the second surgery ‘it would have avoided the third surgery and may have seen a more rapid recovery’.

Our client has stated:

“When you go in for surgery of any kind you place your trust, and your health, in the hands of the professionals. You believe that they have your best interests at heart, and that they will do everything in their power to protect you.

It’s extremely difficult to read this report, after so many years, and to learn that so much more could and should have been done to protect me, and many other patients like me.

The impact of the failings identified continue to have a significant impact on me even now, more than a decade later, and I find that very difficult to come to terms with. However, what I find more distressing is the fact that the concerns regarding my surgeon’s practices were raised many times, across many years, including a 2014 internal investigation which was brushed under carpet.

No one should have to go through what we have been through, and I only hope that now that the true extent of the failings have come to light that the Trust acts on its promise to learn important lessons from what happened.”

A The Sunday Times article reported in March 2023 and the follow up in July 2023, this review follows allegations by whistle-blowers of a cover-up by managers and a “toxic culture” within Mr Williamson’s surgery team.

According to the article an internal list produced by concerned clinicians in 2014 describes some of Williamson’s patients being left ‘paralysed’ or in ‘severe pain’ due to misplaced spinal screws, while others being rushed back to theatre for life-saving surgery.

The actions of Mr Williamson have been linked to the death of a 17-year-old who died during surgery from a catastrophic loss of blood at Salford Royal Hospital. Commenting in the Manchester Evening News, the Northern Care Alliance Trust confirmed that a spinal patient safety ‘look back review’ was initiated to ‘investigate patient safety concerns raised in respect of a Consultant Spinal surgeon who previously worked at Salford Royal’.

Christian Beadell, Head of Group Actions at Patient Claim Line, has said: “Our client has had to wait more than a decade for this matter to be taken seriously, and for the actions of Mr Williamson in relation to his care, and the care of others included within this report, to undergo a full investigation.

The length of time this has taken is completely at odds with the NHS’s commitment to its duty of candour and, needless to say, those involved will have found it extremely difficult to discover the true extent of the failings identified in the care they received, which may have resulted in life changing complications.

The findings of the report will have also caused concern for other patients of Mr Williamson, whose treatments pre-date the scope of this investigation. We are calling for an independent review into both the actions of the surgeon, and into the Trust’s response.

Mr Williamson had worked at the Trust since 1991, and so arguably the majority of his patients will have been operated on prior to the scope of this investigation.”


What are the next steps?

Patient Claim Line are one of the leading medical negligence firms and have vast experience dealing with groups of people who have been affected by the same negligence from medical professionals. Not only do our clients want clarity about what happened and to seek justice for their suffering; but also bringing a claim to ensure that this is prevented from happening in the future. You can contact us for a free initial chat to talk through your options.


Have you been impacted?

If you have been affected by treatment from Mr Williamson and want to know where you stand, we are happy to have a no-obligation chat to explain how we could support you. Claims of this nature are usually funded through No Win, No Fee, meaning there is no financial risk to you should the claim be unsuccessful through no fault of you own. Get in touch with our team who are dealing with this claim today and they will guide you through next steps and how we can help.

Key allegations

Poor clinical practice which may have resulted in unnecessary/incorrect surgery

Not acting on concerns raised by other clinicians

Links to the death of a 17-year-old who died during surgery

Patients being left paralysed or in severe pain

Cover-up by managers and 'toxic culture' within the team

Mr Williamson's actions were “unacceptable and unjustifiable”

An NHS-commissioned report found that the “unacceptable and unjustifiable” actions of her surgeon, John Bradley Williamson, “directly contributed” to her death. According to the report, Mr Williamson continued the surgery despite being explicitly told he needed a second consultant surgeon.

Do you feel you could have been impacted?

If you have been affected by treatment from Mr Williamson and you want to know where you stand, we encourage you to have a no-obligation chat with us to go through how we could support you. Claims of this nature are usually funded through No Win, No Fee which means there is no financial risk to you should the claim not be successful through no fault of you own. Get in touch with our team who are dealing with this claim today and they will guide you through next steps and how we can help.

Find out if you can claim

Our team of experts will support you all the way

Our Group Actions team is led by Christian Beadell and Francesca Paul. They are supported by Sion Wynne, and a dedicated team of talented medical negligence solicitors. The team forms part of a wider medical negligence department, with Peter Rigby at the helm. Our Group Actions team specialises in bringing forward collective clinical negligence claims against a single defendant, and have a track record of successfully securing compensation for our clients.

Peter Rigby

Peter Rigby
Director of Medical Negligence

Peter leads the Medical Negligence Serious Injury department, which now boasts some of our most knowledgeable, dedicated and hardworking team members.

Peter is dedicated to supporting victims of catastrophic medical negligence injuries and endeavours to provide a clear and coherent approach to claims. He recognises the effects serious injuries can have and therefore ensures his customers’ need for support is met. Peter also has a vast amount of experience working with customers who have been injured abroad and is able to act under international law to provide the best outcomes.

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Christian Beadell

Christian Beadell
Partner, Head of Strategy and Legal Operations

Christian is Head of Medical Negligence at Patient Claim Line and has specialised in clinical negligence claims since qualifying in 1998; having dealt with a wide variety of claims throughout his career. He is also featured in the Legal 500 as a recommended claimant solicitor in the North West.

Christian qualified as a solicitor in 1998, specialising in clinical negligence. From 2010 onward he has had a particular interest in gynaecological and urogynaecological claims, having represented several hundred claimants in the George Rowland Litigation against the Liverpool Women’s and Aintree Hospitals. This investigated the treatment given to women in the Merseyside area over several decades, and in particular focused on the introduction and development of mesh into the UK in both the treatment of stress urinary incontinence and pelvic organ prolapse. The development of this area involved pursuing claims under a unique ADR protocol with the NHS and also looking to develop the current thinking on the valuation of compensation for complex urinary symptoms. He has successfully recovered hundreds of thousands of pounds in compensation on behalf of my clients.

Christian was also involved in setting up and chairing a Claimant Support Group for those involved in the Rowland litigation, which provided a discussion forum for the many women who were left isolated and damaged by negligent gynaecological treatment. He now co-ordinates the firm’s mesh claims and has delivered training and commented extensively on the medico-legal implications of urogynaecological / mesh complications. He is a member of APIL, Liverpool Law Society and Legal 500 recommended.

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Francesca Paul

Francesca Paul
Associate Solicitor

Francesca Paul is an Associate, Senior Solicitor and Team Leader within the Clinical Negligence Department.  She is one of the driving Solicitors in the Group Litigation Team dealing with this niche and specialist area of work that Fletchers undertakes.   

Francesca previously worked in Nottingham, dealing with Group Action work.  She now works at Fletchers, bringing with her those years of experience heading up a team of 10 people.  Francesca is involved in the early identification of potential new Group Litigation Work and analyses information from the collective pool of new enquiries into the business, of which there are hundreds per week looking for hot spots or recurrent issues which might suggest a potential pool of Claimants.   

One of the highlights for Francesca and her team is that they have successfully recovered over a million pounds in compensation for clients who have received treatment from a single orthopaedic surgeon who was operating in the Colchester area.  Her role requires a specific set of skills, patience and a forensic approach to detail whilst being able to see the wider picture.   

Francesca has previously acted for a claimant in a case that reached the Supreme Court in the case of NA v Nottinghamshire County Council. 

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Sion Wynne

Sion Wynne
Senior Solicitor

Sion is a team leader and senior solicitor with many years’ experience in dealing with a wide range of medical specialisms and different types of injuries. He is an experienced medical negligence solicitor and manages a team of lawyers within our department.

Sion joined Fletchers in 2018 as a Team Leader in the Medical Negligence Department. Throughout his 24 year legal career, he has specialised in conducting medical negligence claims on behalf of Claimants, previously working for other highly ranked leading firms in the field.

He has undertaken claims covering the full spectrum of medical specialisms, clinical settings, categories of defendant and types of negligent medical care and treatment.
These include high value and complex maximum severity cases, such as those involving limb amputations and permanent neurological injuries.

Sion is experienced at representing bereaved families at inquests and has a particular interest in fatal accident claims.


Notable Cases

JI v Warrington and Halton Hospitals NHS Trust: £1.25m recovered for client left paraplegic after spinal anaesthesia.

RS v Central Manchester University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust: £150,000 recovered for client in respect of a failure to recognise complications after a kidney transplant, where her father was the donor.

JN v MA: £100,000 recovered for a client who suffered 2 years persistent pain and disability after knee replacement surgery undertaken as a private patient.

CS v Pennine Acute Hospitals NHS Trust: £400,000 recovered for a child who sustained Erb’s palsy during her delivery.

WO’C (Deceased) v Central Manchester University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust; £450,000 recovered for the family of the deceased who died as a result of a delay in diagnosing a brain tumour.


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