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Compensation Claims against convicted breast surgeon Ian Paterson

breast surgeon medical negligence claims

We are accepting cases against convicted breast surgeon Ian Paterson who performed dangerous and unnecessary operations

The NHS has paid out millions to around 250 victims claiming medical negligence against former breast surgeon Ian Paterson. Following recent convictions in Nottingham Crown Court for wounding with intent, more victims are coming forward.

The Paterson Prosecution

A chain of events triggered Paterson’s punishment and prosecution. As far back as 1998, Paterson was hired by the Heart of England NHS Trust - one of the largest trusts in the U.K. - as a consultant surgeon. This was despite the fact he was previously suspended from Good Hope Hospital due to exposing a “patient to a significant risk of harm”.

Being hired by the trust meant Paterson was operating across three different NHS hospitals over the years:

  • Heartlands Hospital, Birmingham;
  • Good Hope Hospital, Sutton Coldfield, Birmingham;
  • Solihull Hospital.

Not only was he a surgeon for the NHS, he also performed private surgeries in Spire Healthcare’s Little Aston and Parkway hospitals. Paterson specialised in breast surgery; particularly in cancer patients who required a mastectomy, which is the removal of breast tissue to reduce the risk of breast cancer.

Initial Concerns And Investigations

Investigations into Paterson’s conduct were initiated as far back as 2003 when colleagues in the breast care team raised concerns about the amount of tissue Paterson left behind after mastectomy procedures.

Guidelines say you should remove 98% of breast tissue in a mastectomy for the best chance of successfully stopping cancer. However, Paterson was leaving too much tissue as part of a seemingly experimental and unrecognised procedure later identified as a “cleavage sparing mastectomy” (CSM), which could significantly increase the risk of cancer returning in patients.

It has been suggested that Paterson carried out these procedures for status and financial gain. By not removing enough tissue in the first surgery, patients may have had to return for further procedures, with some reportedly returning for surgery multiple times. It has also been suggested that Paterson exaggerated the risk of cancer to some patients to perform surgery on them, when it turns out that patients may not have been at risk of the harrowing disease in the first place.

Following investigations in 2003, recommendations were put in place to improve mastectomy surgeries, but these were apparently not followed through by Paterson or the trust.

Increasing Concerns

It wasn’t until 2007 when a new surgeon was appointed alongside Paterson that further concerns were raised. The new breast surgeon, Hemant Ingle, reviewed some of Paterson’s patients and noticed the abundance of cancerous tissues in previous cases.

Ingle raised concerns to the board which led to a two-part investigation conducted into Paterson’s “inter-personal relations” with staff and surgical procedures. Senior management recommended that Paterson “must cease immediately” from carrying out the CSM’s and “shaves after mastectomy”. This initiated a recall of patients who’d undergone a CSM, but the question remains: how was the trust to know who had a CSM if it wasn’t a recognised procedure and was indicated to be an ordinary mastectomy on medical notes?

"Misleading Information"

Following the recommendation to cease unrecognised procedures, two GP’s from the same practice raised concerns about one of Paterson’s private patients in 2008. They suggested Paterson “gave misleading information about pathology reports, was over treating patients and disregarded the multidisciplinary team meeting process.”

The GP’s asked Spire Healthcare for an audit on Paterson, but there is no evidence of this audit taking place.

A "Bullying Approach"

In 2009, one of Paterson’s private patients from Spire Healthcare’s Parkway Hospital came forward after having treatment with Paterson.

She claims she was given general anaesthetic against her wishes; was given misleading information; claimed Paterson had a bullying approach; and said he suggested deceiving her insurance company by providing ways of getting around having a surgeon that was not registered under her health insurance.

Once again it seemed that the “benefit of the doubt” was given to Paterson as no further action was taken.

No Action From Spire Despite Mounting Evidence

In 2010 the General Medical Council informed Spire Healthcare of a complaint received about an NHS patient’s “incomplete mastectomy” in May 2006. Despite mounting evidence against Paterson, Spire Healthcare seemingly chose to take no action at the time, despite Paterson performing questionable surgery in two of their hospitals.

In 2011 things started to take a turn in the right direction. Previously, both the NHS and Spire Healthcare reportedly failed to discipline Paterson appropriately, but after it was discovered that Paterson carried out a CSM at Spire Parkway Hospital in 2009 - despite being told to stop in 2008 - the NHS recalled all his patients.

May 2011 saw Paterson suspended by the trust, but he continued to perform surgery for Spire until the 8th June 2011. In 2012 Paterson was officially suspended by the General Medical Council, and his pay was terminated in November the same year.

So, after overlooking the chain of events that led to Paterson’s suspension, it took the Heart of England Trust and Spire Healthcare nearly 10 years to impose disciplinary action on Paterson and realise he was causing harm to patients with intent; and risking their lives for what we can only assume was for his own financial gain.

Prosecution

On Friday the 28th April 2017, 59 year old Paterson was convicted of 17 counts of wounding with intent relating to 10 different patients; nine women and one man. The conviction followed on from a seven week trial in the Nottingham Crown Court where the jury decided Paterson was guilty of “extensive, life-changing operations for no medically justifiable reason”.

Paterson has been released on bail but the Judge noted he could potentially face life in jail. The maximum sentence for wounding with intent is life imprisonment.

Worryingly, this prosecution only involved 10 of his patients, and it’s suspected that Paterson performed CSM’s on thousands of patients over the years he was a “renowned” breast surgeon. The NHS has paid out nearly £10 million in compensation to some 250 of Paterson’s patients, but this may not be all of them.

Hundreds of patients recently came forward following Paterson’s prosecution, and the NHS and Spire Healthcare have recalled all Paterson’s patients; but that doesn’t justify the fact that many of these patients may have received dangerous or unnecessary surgery, and some may still be at an increased risk of cancer.

The Injury Lawyers Advice

Having represented women for breast implant claims in the PIP Breast Implant Scandal action, as well as countless private and NHS medical negligence cases, our team is here to help.

There may be many more of his patients out there who have suffered negligent treatment, and anyone who has suffered as a result of medical negligence is entitled to claim compensation.

Although his motives remain unclear, it can only be assumed that it was about money and status. No one deserves to have their health – or even their life – put at risk for the financial gain of someone else. Undergoing any form of surgery is often stressful and emotional and can have a massive impact on peoples' lives. Not only has Paterson left patients at increased risk of cancer recurrence, but he also performed unnecessary procedures.

It’s simply unacceptable that someone who has such an important duty of care to so many people has put patient lives in danger.

You're Not Alone

Anyone who received negligent treatment from Paterson may be entitled to compensation.

Both the NHS and Spire Healthcare have a responsibility to protect their patients and do everything in their power to improve their patients’ health; yet they seemingly neglected this responsibility by failing to act on advice and concerns raised over a number of years.

We’re accepting claims of medical negligence for Paterson’s patients. It’s important to know that you are not alone.

If you were treated by Paterson and you believe the care received was negligent, you are welcome to contact us for free, no obligation, and confidential advice.

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