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Inquiry into Ian Paterson’s malpractice.

The inquiry report was released yesterday (4th February 2020), and recommended that all of Dr Paterson’s 11,000 patients were recalled for their surgery to be assessed.

Between 1997 and 2011, Ian Paterson’s medical negligence ranged from cancer patients having unregulated ‘cleavage sparing’ mastectomies (leaving breast tissue behind, meaning for many, their cancer returned), unnecessary invasive lumpectomies, to unnecessary surgery on patients who later found out they didn’t actually have cancer.

The inquiry, chaired by the Rt Rev Graham James, a former bishop of Norwich, called on ministers, NHS bosses and the private healthcare industry to introduce measures to reduce the risk of another health professional harming more patients.

The report of the independent inquiry into the issues raised by Paterson, found a culture of “avoidance and denial”, which allowed the breast surgeon to perform botched and unnecessary operations on hundreds of women at the Spire private hospital in Solihull and the NHS Solihull Hospital.  One of his victims, MP for Reddith, Rachel Maclean tweeted; “The extent of the malpractice he carried out is shocking, and the response from authorities was woefully lacking”.

Patient Safety

Following the inquiry, Health Secretary Matt Hancock has pledged to introduce improvements within a year, to improve patient safety. A key change was the exchange and comparison of patient notes between the public and private health systems.

Other recommendations include:

  • It should be standard practice for consultants to write directly to patients to explain proposed surgical treatment
  • A public register should be created detailing with types of operations surgeons are able to perform
  • Patients should be allowed time to reflect on their diagnosis and treatment before they consent to surgery
  • Information must be communicated to patients on how to escalate a complaint, with complaints made in private hospitals resolved by someone independent of the healthcare provider

Private and NHS hospitals must follow all recommendations

Unfortunately, this is one of just many scandals that has hit the NHS in recent years and there is continued criticism that enough isn’t being done to make the system safe for patients. Across the board, it is clear that more needs to be done to protect patients.

This case also, once again highlights the urgent need for stricter regulations of private healthcare providers. Following this inquiry, a failure to implement the recommendations set out in the report, by private hospitals, could mean a removal of state funding of treatment in the independent sector.

Action against Medical Accidents (AvMA) has welcomed the report but says it doesn’t go far enough to protect patients in private healthcare. Chief Executive Peter Walsh said, “…the inquiry failed to recommend that patients and families have access to a funded independent advice service to help them take forward their concerns. This is a major gap in private healthcare where injured patients are often left to fend for themselves against large corporations, or on rare occasions, rogue doctors.”

Sara Westwood, Solicitor and Director of AvMA Panel firm Morgan Jones Pett echoed Peter Walsh’s sentiments and said “too often we see major institutional failings within the health service, which lead to patients suffering unnecessarily. Whilst I welcome the report findings and the recommendations for improvement, I still think things could go much further; we need to safeguard people more than we currently do”

Ian Paterson is currently serving a 20-year jail term for 17 counts of wounding with intent.

Our expert team at Morgan Jones Pett have over 35 years’ experience representing clients who have suffered because of medical negligence.

Contact us on 01603 877000 or via email: info@m-j-p.co.uk for a free, confidential consultation.

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Morgan Jones & Pett Ltd is a company registered in England and Wales Registered No: 06236869. Registered office at: 18-20 Prince of Wales Road, Norwich, Norfolk, NR1 1LB. Authorised and Regulated by: The Solicitors Regulation Authority registration: 569813. www.sra.org.uk/solicitors/handbook/code/content.page