Mr David Sellu FRCS
Author of Did he save lives – A Surgeon’s Story, and Consultant Colorectal Surgeon
David Sellu was a Surgeon with a distinguished record extending over 40 years. In February 2010, David operated on a patient with a perforated bowel. Despite David’s efforts, the patient died two days later. David was understandably devastated at the death of his patient.
There followed a sequence of extraordinary events that led to David being tried at the Old Bailey and convicted of Gross Negligence Manslaughter. He served 15 months in prison and was eventually released on licence until the remainder of the two-and-a-half year sentence expired.
Friends and colleagues up and down the country, as well as David’s former patients, were appalled at what happened and the situation turning into a criminal case with one individual, the surgeon, being singled out to take blame for the whole chain of uncontrollable events.
With Dr Jenny Vaughan leading the campaign, he won an appeal against his conviction and is now a free man. But the extensive reputational and emotional damage had already been done.
The thousands of lives David had saved over his 40 year unblemished career as a General and Cancer Surgeon are testimony to his skills. The shock waves caused by the conviction of a Senior Surgeon with a previously distinguished career have led more members of the medical profession to practise defensive medicine. This means that patients who are considered high risk (especially when it comes to operations) may not get the choices they deserve. This could have a huge impact on patient care in the future as our population ages and their health needs become more complex.