Paterson inquiry shows opportunities exist to ensure this never happens again

You will no doubt have seen coverage today of the official inquiry into the actions of Ian Paterson, who performed multiple unnecessary surgical procedures.

The results of the inquiry were announced today. Of note, the inquiry found that opportunities to stop Paterson were missed because staff and bosses at the hospitals he worked at displayed a “wilful blindness” to his behaviour, despite complaints having been made.

We could extensively outline the details of what Paterson did and highlight the many recommendations that have come out of the inquiry. However, we have to acknowledge that we would merely be repeating what many media outlets have already said today about the results of the inquiry into Paterson’s crimes. Therefore, if you would like to learn more about Ian Paterson’s crimes and the recommendations that have come as a result of this inquiry in detail, we would highly recommend the article The Guardian has published on this.

What caught our attention in the reporting of this story is that 211 people in total gave evidence to the inquiry. These were either former patients of Paterson or family members of those who have sadly passed away since. Furthermore, Paterson has thousands of victims at least, as around 750 people have been told they will receive compensation. This is in addition to 212 patients that Paterson had unnecessarily operated on that have already received compensation.

Our thoughts

Paterson’s actions have affected a lot of lives, and we are pleased that one of the things that has come out of the inquiry is a list of 15 recommendations to improve the regulation of healthcare and reduce the risk of something similar happening again. This includes the creation of a public register of operations surgeons are able to perform, given much of the harm Paterson caused was a result of him performing a procedure of his own invention that had not been approved and which breached national guidelines. It is interesting to note that the industry body AvMA doesn’t feel the recommendations go far enough though.

Additionally, the inquiry’s head, the Rt Rev Graham James, has also reported five of the doctors and nurses who worked with Paterson to either the General Medical Council (GMC) or the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) for their lack of action in failing to stop and prevent the harm Paterson caused.

On this, we welcome Paterson’s colleagues being investigated and held to account for their parts in the pain and distress Paterson caused. However, we note that, during the inquiry, a former colleague of Paterson’s described him as someone who had “a very aggressive, bullying sort of personality, which allowed him to get his way”. When Paterson was sentenced for his crimes in May 2017, Mr Justice Jeremy Baker called Paterson “a charming and charismatic individual” and said he “deliberately used those characteristics to manipulate [his] patients.” It should also be said that Paterson was a senior and influential figure at the three NHS and two Spire Healthcare hospitals he worked at in the West Midlands from 1994.

Therefore, while we are certainly not saying that any leniency should be given, we would hope that a full and thorough investigation that takes account of all of the facts is conducted by both the GMC and the NMC – as we have noted in other recent blog posts, the NHS is under immense strain currently as it doesn’t have enough staff and is facing an unprecedented level of demand. Therefore, if it is found that the doctors and nurses were in junior positions to Paterson and their lack of action was principally driven by Paterson’s bullying and the seniority of his positions at the different hospitals rather than incompetence or a wilful disregard for the safety and wellbeing of Paterson’s patients, we would argue that the NHS is not in a position to be losing qualified clinicians if further learning opportunities and re-education can be done to ensure they do not put themselves or patients in such a position again.

As we have noted, at the heart of this inquiry is the thousands of patients adversely affected by Paterson. His behaviour, his arrogance (to be frank) and the wholly unnecessary surgeries he performed caused an immense amount of both mental and physical trauma, and his victims are quite rightly being compensated.

This is because Paterson’s actions were utterly unacceptable, should not have been allowed to happen and should never be allowed to happen again.

How we can help

At The Medical Negligence Experts, we work with legal firms who specialise in cases where unnecessary surgeries that cause harm have taken place. These firms have a proven track record in successfully claiming the maximum amount of compensation you are entitled. More importantly, they will treat you with the respect and care that you deserve, which is something that certainly could not be said for Paterson.

After your initial consultation with our advisors, during which we will talk to you in detail on a free no-obligation basis about the particular circumstances, we will match you with the firm who best suits the circumstances of your claim.

If you do decide to proceed, your solicitor will collect any evidence and will contact any witnesses to help build the strongest possible case to support the claim. These witness statements, along with the other evidence gathered, will be used not only to prove entitlement to compensation but also to show the extent of the physical and emotional suffering that has taken place to ensure the amount of compensation received is fair.

If you have any concerns and would like some advice to see if you, your friend or relative may have a case, do not hesitate to contact us via the contact form on our homepage or by calling 0161 413 8761.