Lawyers Secure Justice For Paterson Victims But Say Patients ‘Appalled’ At Lack Of Answers From Trust

Irwin Mitchell Repeat Calls For Public Inquiry As ‘Findings Of Kennedy Review Will Not Go Far Enough’

07.10.2013

By Helen MacGregor

Medical law experts at Irwin Mitchell representing victims of negligent breast surgery at the hands of Ian Paterson have recently settled three cases against the NHS Trust under which he was working but say patients remain frustrated and angry as they have been left with critical questions unanswered.

The firm confirmed it is continuing to receive new enquiries from former patients desperate for answers and says it is ‘deeply concerned’ as many have received little or no communication from the Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust and are only now learning their care could have been substandard.

It follows the Trust admitting responsibility and now agreeing a five-figure settlement for a patient who underwent a Cleavage Sparing Mastectomy (CSM) in 2010 - three years after the Trust told Mr Paterson to stop performing the procedures following an investigation into his work in 2007.

However the patient, who does not wish to be named, has been given no answers about how Mr Paterson was allowed to continue performing surgery unsupervised for so long after the Trust became aware of concerns about him – the issue lawyers say is the key question for all their clients.

Solihull Hospital Kennedy Breast Care Review confirmed it is investigating how health chiefs reacted to concerns from Solihull Hospital patients and staff about CSMs performed by Mr Paterson and whether actions taken by the Trust were appropriate and carried out in a timely manner. The review does not appear to be addressing why the CSM procedure was still being carried out at the Trust by Mr Paterson when he was told to stop in 2007.

The Trust announced last year that up to 1,000 women under the care of Mr Paterson may have had unregulated CSMs or unnecessary surgery dating back to 1996, while he worked at Solihull Hospital, Good Hope Hospital, and two private facilities run by Spire Healthcare.

Mr Paterson has been suspended from practice and the General Medical Council (GMC) is currently investigating, along with the Police and Sir Ian Kennedy on behalf of the NHS.

Irwin Mitchell says it is continuing to be contacted by many women who have only been made aware of Mr Paterson’s non-standard surgery by reading press reports, rather than being contacted directly by the hospital Trust. Other patients have had to contact the Trust themselves and ask for their case to be revisited after only recently becoming aware of unregulated surgery being carried out.

Specialist medical lawyer at Irwin Mitchell’s Birmingham office

The unnamed patient, who was given a CSM by Mr Paterson as recently as 2010, said: “Whilst I am relieved that Irwin Mitchell has settled my case, I am appalled at the lack of information from the Trust about how it was even possible for Mr Paterson to perform the CSM procedure on me when he had been told to stop by the Trust.

“I cannot begin to come to terms with what happened until I have this information as it gives me no faith that lessons have been learnt to prevent the same thing from happening again. The Trust needs to inform all patients affected why mistakes happened and what improvements have been made. Until then, we will not have peace of mind that the matter has been fully and properly investigated.”

Read more about Irwin Mitchell's expertise related to Medical Negligence claims