Great Britain

New compensation scheme for victims of rogue surgeon to be set up by private hospital group

A fund to compensate newly identified victims of rogue surgeon Ian Paterson is being set up by private hospital firm Spire Healthcare.

The company has set aside £22 million to cover the costs of the new compensation and its recall of 5,500 private patients, carried out after criticism by an independent inquiry last year.

This takes the total cost of Paterson’s behaviour to £50 million for Spire Healthcare alone. The NHS and insurers have also paid £10 million.

Paterson, a breast surgeon, was jailed in or 20 years after being convicted of 17 counts of wounding with intent and three counts of unlawful wounding after he subjected more than 1,000 women to unnecessary and dangerous surgery over 14 years.

Thousands of his patients were never correctly reviewed after his behaviour came to light with many only being told now, years later, that they experienced unnecessary tests and surgery when there was no clinical need.

In some cases, patients underwent multiple surgeries without any justification before Paterson was suspended by Spire Healthcare in 2011.

Earlier this year The Independent revealed a legal order signed by 40 law firms as part of a £37 million settlement in 2017, barred them from bringing new claims for 20 years.

The deal was signed on the belief most of Paterson’s victims had been identified by the inquiry into the scandal last year criticised the NHS and Spire Healthcare’s failure to recall patients and accused the company of seeking to protect its reputation rather than the interests of patients. The government has yet to fully respond to the inquiry’s recommendations.

In the High Court today, Justice Whipple agreed to adjust the legal deal with the new compensation scheme administered by two law firms, Slater and Gordon and Thompsons Solicitors with victims able to seek instruct any of the previous 40 law firms involved.

Claim will be assessed and decided on by an independent QC.

Cheryl Iommi, 54 from Birmingham, had three lumpectomies performed by Paterson after he told her she was going to get cancer. She later found out it was completely unnecessary, and she had been maimed for no reason.

She was awarded compensation as part of the initial civil claim against Paterson in 2017.

She said: “I spent so long worrying if what I had gone through was even a big deal, but the compensation awarded made me realise I am a victim, something horrible did happen to me, and this is the least I deserve.

“Paterson was put behind bars but, in my eyes, the hospitals were equally guilty. They ignored what he did for their own gain, and that should be paid for.”

Kashmir Uppal, a specialist medical negligence solicitor for Shoosmiths, said: “I first began investigating Paterson in 2010 when I noticed irregularities in patient records and acceptable practice for recurrence of cancer following a mastectomy. It perhaps does not come as a surprise to me that further patients than initially suspected had been affected. I know from previous clients that I have represented the impact Mr Paterson’s actions had on them at the time and continue to have and I am pleased a new compensation fund is being set up to enable people to access the justice they deserve. It is important that anyone affected comes forward now as there will be no further opportunities to seek redress for Mr Paterson’s actions.”

There are also concerns some of Paterson’s patients may have died as a result of his unapproved “cleavage-sparing” mastectomies, which left behind breast tissue in some cancer patients, risking a return of the disease.

Senior coroners in Birmingham have launched new inquests into some patients at the request of West Midlands Police on the grounds their deaths “may have been caused or contributed to by acts or omissions” by Paterson and other clinicians.

Linda Millband, head of clinical negligence at Thompsons Solicitors who spearheaded the original case against Paterson, said: “After a very thorough recall following the Bishop’s report, it is clear that many more patients had been mistreated by Paterson and deserve to be compensated.

“It is clear people have been missed and we will be urging anyone who believes they may have been a victim of Ian Paterson, at any time, to come forward and seek compensation for their injuries. Our job is to ensure any victim of Paterson, whenever they may have been contacted, get the maximum compensation.”

A spokesperson for Spire Healthcare said: “Patients who suffered at the hands of Ian Paterson must not be prevented from seeking compensation. Spire Healthcare has taken the initiative to collaborate in setting up the new fund so that Patterson’s victims can access appropriate legal expertise. We are pleased the Court has agreed to allow the claimant law firms to advise patients and refer them to the new fund.”

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