About 750 victims of botched or unnecessary breast operations carried out by rogue UK surgeon Ian Paterson are to receive £37m in compensation. The Guardian reports that Spire Healthcare, the firm that runs the two private hospitals in the West Midlands where Paterson worked, is contributing £27.2m to a new £37m fund. His insurers and the Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust in Birmingham where he also worked are putting in another £10m.
The report says the £37m is additional to the £9.6m that the NHS’s medical negligence agency has already paid in damages to 212 others upon whom the disgraced surgeon – branded a “butcher” by some victims – performed procedures. “No financial settlement will ever heal the physical and mental scars inflicted on our clients but they are relieved that they have finally won their battle for justice”, said
Paterson worked at various times for the NHS and at Spire’s Little Aston and Parkway hospitals between 1997 and 2011. Nine victims told his trial earlier this year that his crimes had left them suffering in constant pain and struggling to trust medical professionals.
Ed Marsden, the MD of Verita, which undertakes investigations into the NHS for the Department of Health and NHS bodies, said in the report that Paterson was able to commit crimes thanks to the “superhero status” he enjoyed because of his apparent skill and rapport with patients. “This status allowed Ian Paterson to make false diagnoses and carry out unnecessary or dangerous breast surgery whilst receiving plaudits from many unsuspecting patients. He was also allowed to carry out colonoscopies on his patients without permission or sufficient training.”
According to the report, Simon Gordon, Spire’s interim CEO admitted that failings in oversight by the firm’s hospitals’ of Paterson helped allow him to continue performing surgery when he should have been stopped. “These events took place in our hospitals and this should not have happened. We accept that better clinical governance in the private hospitals where Paterson practised, as well as in his NHS trust, might have led to action being taken sooner, and it is right that we have made a material contribution to the settlement announced today”, said Gordon. He repeated Spire’s unreserved apology for the “suffering and distress” of victims.
Spire said the deal was conditional on all parties agreeing it and it being approved by the high court, which was due to start hearing an action for damages brought by more than 500 people Paterson operated on at the Spire premises.
However, Doughty Emma Doughty, one of the solicitors representing Paterson’s many victims, claimed that: “Even when Paterson was charged and then convicted earlier this year, Spire refused to countenance that they were responsible for his actions, despite his crimes taking place in their hospitals.”
The report says Paterson was struck off as a doctor in July by the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service, the disciplinary arm of the General Medical Council, which regulates the profession. Its panel ruled that his actions were “serious, calculated and sustained” and removed him from the medical register.
Paterson’s crimes, and the questions it raised about supervision of doctors, led to a major inquiry by Sir Ian Kennedy, which reported in 2013. Some of the £37m will be set aside in case any further victims come forward, but, the report says, none are thought likely to emerge.
[link url="https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/sep/13/victims-of-rogue-breast-surgeon-ian-paterson-to-be-compensated-from-37m-fund"]The Guardian report[/link]