Dangerous and unnecessary surgery
The independent inquiry into the rogue surgeon Ian Paterson has published its conclusions, finding that “a culture of denial and unwillingness” to hold Paterson to account by his employers enabled him to practise dangerous and unnecessary surgery on his patients.
Patients were found to have inappropriate or unnecessary surgery for breast cancer; many were operated on without sufficient care, leaving tissue behind which meant that cancer returned. He called one operation which he often performed a ‘cleavage-sparing mastectomy’; it became clear that this was incomplete surgery and not an operation recommended or used by other competent surgeons.
The inquiry has recommended that 11,000 of Paterson’s patients be recalled to assess whether the surgery they received was appropriate. The scale of this patient recall indicates a major failure in oversight by Paterson’s employers in both the NHS and private sector to identify and address his malpractice.
The inquiry found this, stating that “checks and balances on his practice were inadequate or were not followed, and this allowed him to continue with unsafe and unnecessary treatment which harmed patients.” Although a significant body of guidance and regulations exists which should have stopped Paterson, these were disregarded by him and others.
As a consequence of the inquiry, five doctors and nurses who worked with Paterson have been reported to either the General Medical Council or the Nursing and Midwifery Council, and one matter has been reported to the West Midlands police, suggesting wider failures in care.
The inquiry team, led by The Right Reverend Graham James, the former Bishop of Norwich, stated that patients were failed by “a healthcare system that proved itself dysfunctional at almost every level when it came to keeping patients safe.”
Ally Taft, partner with Medical Accident Group, who has represented some of Paterson’s victims, said: “It comes as no surprise that the inquiry has identified wider failings and system errors beyond the actions of Paterson.
“During the many investigations I carried out into my clients’ cases, it became clear that concerns were raised about Paterson’s actions by patients and colleagues alike, but action was not taken for many years, allowing him to continue to harm his patients.
“Even after patients were recalled, the truth of his operating practices did not surface fully and one of my clients was reassured by another surgeon at Spire that she had not had a cleavage-sparing mastectomy and need take no further action.
“Expert evidence obtained during the litigation confirmed that she had and recommended ongoing breast surveillance, which then confirmed her cancer had returned. Had she not brought her case, she would not have known until it was potentially too late. Better system must be put in place to protect patients in the private sector and in the NHS.”
What should I do if I received treatment from Ian Paterson?
If you or a family member have received treatment from Mr Paterson and wish to pursue a claim, Medical Accident Group is here to help. We have a team of dedicated clinical negligence solicitors who will guide you through the process of making a claim. We have considerable experience in this field – please contact the team on 0800 050 1668 or email us at [email protected].