Whittington accused of ‘withholding treatment’ as UTI clinic closed to new patients

Professor James Malone-Lee has a "unique" set of skills

Professor James Malone-Lee has a "unique" set of skills - Credit: Archant

The trust behind the Whittington Hospital bowed to pressure and reopened a “pioneering” UTI clinic last year – but is still refusing to allow new patients to sign up.

The Whittington Hospital in north London (Picture: Steve Parsons)

The Whittington Hospital in north London (Picture: Steve Parsons) - Credit: PA Archive/Press Association Ima

The Lower Urinary Tract clinic, run by Professor James Malone-Lee, previously received high praise from patients as “the only thing that works”.

But it was controversially closed last year after a patient suffered organ damage, said to be linked to Prof Malone-Lee’s “unorthodox” use of high dose antibiotics.

The clinic reopened last year after the case was brought to the High Court and 3,300 people, including patients’ GPs, signed a petition calling for the clinic to start running again.

Patients are referred to the clinic from around the country when treatment does not work elsewhere and they continue to experience debilitating pain.

A group of patients accused the Whittington Trust of a lack of transparency at the North Central London Joint Health and Overview and Scrutiny Committee on Friday.

Elizabeth Makin and a second, anonymous, patient read out a jointly-written speech.

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One speaker said: “The clinic is closed to new patients – this amounts to withdrawing treatment...

“The long-term damage from progression of their disease is ethically unacceptable...”

“The situation has been incredibly distressing for all involved.”

She added the disruption in care was leading to patients “suffering unnecessarily.”

Prof Malone was due to retire in September but committed to two more years at the clinic while a succession plan is put in place.

The Whittington Trust commissioned an external review of the clinic from the Royal College of Physicians (RCP) - which is due in the next few weeks and will be made public.

The trust is also working with University College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust to make plans for the future of the innovative clinic.

It will not open the trust to new patients until a succession plan is in place.

Chief executive Simon Pleydell said: “We are committed to the future of this service, we are trying to find a way forward, but there are lots of problems with doing so…”

He said there was an “issue” with the unique nature of the clinic, especially as Professor Malone-Lee has a “unique set of skills.”

Mr Pleydell said that although “our ambition is to open the clinic to new patients” they will not do this until there is a firm succession plan and the RCP report is published.