Advising with empathy and experience

Compensation fund for breast surgeon's victims.

Compensation is to be paid to around 750 victims of disgraced breast surgeon, Ian Paterson, from a new £37m fund.

Private healthcare firm Spire has agreed to pay £27.2m, with £10m coming from Paterson's insurers and the Heart of England NHS Trust.

The surgeon convicted of 17 counts of wounding with intent in April 2017 after a trial at Nottingham Crown Court.

In August, he had his 15-year jail term increased to 20 years after the Appeal Court ruled his term was too lenient.

The compensation payments cover patients treated at private Spire Healthcare hospitals in the West Midlands, where Paterson, who grew up in County Down, Northern Ireland, worked when he carried out hundreds of botched operations.

The fund is intended to halt legal proceedings by patients against the group and account for any new claims.

Heart of England NHS Trust was part of the civil action because patients said it failed to notify Spire of Paterson's dangerous methods discovered while working for Solihull Hospital.

The NHS has already paid out £9.49m in damages, as well as £8.31m costs, to hundreds of others treated by Paterson, 59, from Altrincham, Greater Manchester.

The surgeon's trial heard he wildly exaggerated his patients' cancer symptoms, leading them to have several unnecessary operations that left them physically and emotionally scarred for life.

Paterson’s colleagues at Solihull Hospital first raised concerns about his actions in 2002 when it was found that he was carrying out unregulated 'cleavage-sparing' mastectomies on cancer patients, which left them at higher risk of the disease returning.

In spite of three reports into his actions, he carried on working until 2011 when he was suspended by the trust.

Hundreds of Paterson's private patients were due to take their case for compensation to the High Court in October.

In a statement, Spire said the agreement was conditional on acceptance by all parties and court approval.

The hospital group said the order would also "provide for a portion of the fund to be set aside to provide compensation for any former patient of Mr Paterson who has not yet brought a legitimate claim against Spire Healthcare and the other defendants, but does so prior to 30 October 2018."

Spire interim chief executive, Simon Gordon, said: "Paterson behaved with clear criminal intent and abused the trust of those who looked to him for his care and relied upon his expertise.

"Whilst nothing diminishes Mr Paterson's responsibility for his actions, these events took place in our hospitals, and this should not have happened.

"We accept that better clinical governance in the private hospitals where Mr 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

"We have apologised unreservedly to Mr Paterson's patients for their suffering and distress and we would like to repeat that apology."

Paterson’s victims fall into two categories. Some underwent unnecessary surgery, and others, who did need operations but were left prone to cancer returning because of the untried technique he used.

The criminal trial dealt with cases from the first group, nine women and one man who were either subjected to intrusive surgery or had their breasts removed even though there was no evidence that there was anything wrong them.

The civil case involved the many others whose cases did not come to court, as well as those who were treated using something called a cleavage-sparing operation in which tumours were removed but potentially cancerous tissue was left behind.

The technique was something that was only ever performed by Paterson and never properly tested.

Meanwhile, Ian Paterson has also been struck off in a disciplinary hearing in which a tribunal ruled that his actions were "serious, calculated, and sustained."

Delivering its ruling, the General Medical Council panel, which suspended him after his initial arrest, said: "The 10 patients who attended Mr Paterson were anxious about the physical symptoms they were experiencing.

"They put their trust in Mr Paterson to provide them with truthful medical advice, based on the results of assessments. The tribunal determined that Mr Paterson exploited this trust in order to carry out unnecessary procedures."

The panel added that Paterson showed a "pattern of behaviour which involved deceit and violence, and resulted in life-long consequences for the patients involved."

 

 

The contents of this article are intended for general information purposes only and shall not be deemed to be, or constitute legal advice. We cannot accept responsibility for any loss as a result of acts or omissions taken in respect of this article.