Lack Of Recall For Breast Cancer Patients ‘Extremely Worrying’ Says Expert

Firm Contacted By Several Women

04.12.2011

Over Issue

A PATIENT’S rights lawyer is warning that women who had breast cancer surgery at a private hospital may be unaware that a patient recall is taking place after a breast cancer surgeon has been stopped from operating at an NHS hospital in the Midlands.

Victoria Blankstone, a medical law expert at Irwin Mitchell, said she was ‘extremely concerned’ after being contacted by several women who had been operated on by Mr Ian Paterson, the breast cancer surgeon whose ‘cleavage sparing’ mastectomy practices were found to be against national guidelines.

She said only a small number of her clients had found out about the patient recall through the hospital- the rest had read about it in the press.

She said: “Since the alarm was raised in the press last November, women have continued to contact Irwin Mitchell to seek advice regarding the ‘cleavage sparing’ surgery carried out by Mr Paterson. A number of these women came to us after receiving letters from the Heart of England NHS Trust recalling them for a review of their clinical condition.

“However, some of the women who approached us after having their surgery in a private hospital have not been part of any recall system, which is extremely worrying.

“It is not clear how many women were operated on by Mr Paterson as private patients, but it is important that all patients, whether they were treated by the NHS or in the private sector, are made aware of the need for a review of their treatment and care.”

Mr Paterson was excluded from undertaking this type of surgery by the Heart of England NHS Trust last summer after an internal investigation showed that he had been leaving an amount of breast tissue around the cleavage.

It is understood that in some cases he told his patients he left the tissue there for cosmetic reasons, but an investigation has revealed that he did not follow the standard procedures when carrying out this breast surgery. National guidelines state that excess breast tissue should not be left. The investigation showed that Mr Paterson had also not followed the guidelines for introducing a new procedure.

In June, the Birmingham Post revealed that the Heart of England NHS Trust had conducted an immediate recall of 12 patients, with 60 being monitored for cancer re-emergence. According to the report, one woman has already received compensation after redeveloping breast cancer.

Mr Paterson also practiced at the Spire Little Aston and Parkway Hospitals.