Surgeon who performed 'unnecessary' operations says legal case 'killed his libido'

·4-min read
Former patients of Tony Dixon say they were left 'disabled' and physically and mentally damaged after undergoing ''unnecessary'' surgery with him.
Former patients of Tony Dixon say they were left 'disabled' and physically and mentally damaged after undergoing ''unnecessary'' surgery with him. (Wales News/PA)

A former surgeon who harmed more than 200 patients with unnecessary bowel operations has sparked fury after complaining that accusations of negligence had caused him a 'loss of libido'.

Tony Dixon is facing dozens of negligence claims after patients were left in severe pain following surgery he carried out using artificial mesh at two hospitals in Bristol.

Dixon was suspended in 2017 after concerns were first raised, and sacked by North Bristol NHS Trust in 2019.

In May, North Bristol NHS Trust admitted that more than 200 patients had suffered harm at Dixon's hands following operations at the trust’s Southmead Hospital, and also at the Spire Hospital – a private facility, where NHS patients were regularly referred for treatment.

The colorectal surgeon pioneered the use of artificial mesh to lift prolapsed bowels, but dozens of his former patients say they were left 'disabled' and in severe pain, as well as mentally damaged after the unnecessary surgery.

Dixon is facing dozens of negligence claims but has now failed to stop reporting restrictions being applied to a legal case. (Wales News)
Dixon is facing dozens of negligence claims but has now failed to stop reporting restrictions being applied to a legal case. (Wales News)

It has now emerged that Dixon has failed in an attempt to be named in a legal case he has launched against Southmead Hospital to try and stop documents being released to solicitors acting for his ex-patients.

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The BBC reported that Dixon's lawyer had argued in the High Court that being identified could harm his mental health, and told the court he claimed to have suicidal thoughts as well as struggling with his libido, which he blamed on media attention.

The attempt failed, with a judgement published on 26 July finding that media attention was the "price to be paid for open justice and the freedom of the press".

The news sparked fury from the surgeon's ex-patients, with one branding his claims "outrageous".

Paula Goss, who founded support group Rectopexy Mesh Victims and Support for women who treated by Dixon, said: "We have to live our lives with what he did, we have to see him out in the world causing distress.

"It's more than just the fact he's complaining about suicidal thoughts and depression which many of his victims suffer from, it's that he said we don't even matter.

"People have waited so long since the review in 2017 for justice they have since passed away.

"So him complaining about suicidal thoughts and depression over media coverage seems very unfair compared to what we have suffered through."

A general view of Southmead Hospital, Bristol. Six cancer patients whose sperm samples were lost when the hospital freezer broke down can claim damages, the Court of Appeal ruled today.
Tony Dixon carried out unnecessary operations at Southmead Hospital in Bristol. (Stock image: Getty)

She added: "It's like his Achilles heel, he can't stand facing the consequences of his actions in public - so he should have to face the media.

''He should think about all the hundreds of patients that he harmed that have not got any libido as well, and that have suicidal thoughts like he is trying to profess he has.''

Legal papers from the hearing say: "[The Claimant] stated that during the past three weeks there has been a worsening in his mood and he described his mood as: ‘It’s down. Definitely down, I feel as though I’m relapsing’.

"He described the presence of sleep disturbance, loss of appetite and loss of libido; these are biological symptoms that can be seen in people suffering from a depressive disorder.

A view of The Royal Courts of Justice in London as the UK continues in lockdown to help curb the spread of the coronavirus.
Dixon had tried to avoid being named in the media with a case at the High Court. (Stock image: PA)

"He also described the presence of depressive symptoms… He stated that he considers the possibility of there being further media attention extremely distressing and that in the event of him not being offered anonymity there would likely be a further deterioration in his mental health."

Dixon has previously argued that any surgery can have complications and his operations were done in good faith, with most being successful.

A North Bristol NHS Trust spokesperson said: "We welcome the court's ruling that this matter is one to which the usual principles of open justice should still apply.

"It would however be inappropriate to comment any further given that the main application hasn't yet been heard in court."

A GMC inquiry into the surgery Dixon carried out is set to be carried out at a later date.

When contacted for a comment, Dixon told the BBC: "I am unable to comment while proceedings are ongoing."

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