Joanne, who is 42, now breathes through a tube in her neck after her vocal chord nerves were damaged in error during a routine procedure to remove her thyroid gland. The operation was carried out by Mr Nayef El-Bhargouti in February 2008.
After the surgery Jo was unable to speak. It later emerged that due to nerve damage her vocal chords were blocking her airway and restricting her breathing. To ensure she has a stable airway, a permanent tracheostomy, in which a tube was inserted through her neck into her windpipe, had to be carried out in Hull in July 2008.
After the tracheostomy, Jo contacted Hudgell Solicitors, specialists in all types of personal injury and medical negligence claims. The firm based in Leeds and Hull, took on the case and succeeded in gaining compensation from Scarborough and North East Yorkshire NHS Trust.
Jo, who despite her impairment has continued to work part-time as a health care assistant at a Bridlington GP practice, also lodged a complaint about Mr El-Barghouti with the General Medical Council. A hearing that took place by the GMC panel on 22nd July 2011 decided that Mr El-Barghouty should be suspended immediately from the medical register so that he cannot practise for 12 months.
Jo told a press conference how the surgery had dramatically affected her family life. She is more prone to infections, tires easily and can’t enjoy pleasures such as bonfire night, because of the smoke, or swimming.
Jo said: “Ideally I would have liked Mr El-Barghouty to have been struck off the medical register for good, but a 12 months suspension is the next best thing. If I have saved one person from going under his knife that is a victory for me.”
Mr El-Barghouti was aware he’d damaged the vocal chord nerves during the operation but didn’t admit it. Instead, for several months Joanne was allowed to continue hoping that the nerves would repair themselves. Mr El-Barghouti has never apologised to her.