United Kingdom

Private hospital firm WILL write to 5,500 former patients of Ian Paterson

Disgraced breast surgeon Ian Paterson (pictured) is currently serving a 20-year-prison sentence after carrying out 'experimental mastectomies' on women that left the breast tissue in place, allowing the cancer to return

A private hospital firm has announced that it will write to 5,500 former patients of disgraced breast surgeon Ian Paterson after it was criticised by an independent probe.

Paterson is currently serving a 20-year-prison sentence after carrying out 'experimental mastectomies' on women that left the breast tissue in place, allowing the cancer to return. 

In some cases he advised treatment for women who did not have cancer, offering them more expensive procedures.

He worked at NHS hospitals in the West Midlands and private clinics including those run by Spire hospitals. 

A total of 675 out of 1,207 women who underwent the unregulated treatment had died by 2017.

Now Spire Healthcare will sent out thousands of letters after it was criticised by an independent inquiry at the start of the year for not doing enough to contact former patients.

Paterson was employed by Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust (HEFT) - since taken over by another NHS trust - but had practising privileges in the independent sector at Spire Parkway, Solihull, and Spire Little Aston in Birmingham.

In September 2017, more than 750 patients treated by Paterson received compensation payouts from a £37million fund.

The independent Paterson Inquiry into the issues raised, published in February, found that many of Glasgow-born Paterson's patients were 'lied to, deceived or exploited', though the consultant maintains his innocence.

Over the summer the Birmingham coroner opened inquests into the deaths of several of Paterson's former patients who have since died, and is investigating a total of 23 such cases.

Paterson worked at NHS hospitals in the West Midlands and private clinics including those run by Spire hospitals (Spire Parkway in Solihull, pictured)

Paterson was employed by Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust (HEFT) - since taken over by another NHS trust - but had practising privileges in the independent sector at Spire Parkway, Solihull, and Spire Little Aston in Birmingham (pictured)

A total of seven inquests have been opened to date, into deaths which 'may have been caused or contributed to by acts or omissions in the treatment provided by Mr Paterson'.

Spire Healthcare is writing to patients who were seen by the surgeon between 1993 and 2011 and has set up a freephone telephone line for those receiving a letter.

The independent inquiry led by Right Reverend Graham James, ex Bishop of Norwich, made 15 recommendations.

Among them was a call for HEFT's successor NHS trust, University Hospitals Birmingham (UHB), and Spire to check all Paterson's patients had been recalled, with the private provider asked to 'mirror' NHS arrangements by offering ongoing care, if necessary.

Jailed for 20 years for wounding with intent: Ian Paterson 

Butchering breast surgeon Ian Paterson is currently serving his 20-year prison sentence.

What was he convicted of? He was convicted of 17 counts of wounding with intent and three counts of unlawful wounding between 1997 and 2011, after a trial in 2017.

How did he harm patients? Paterson carried out 'experimental mastectomies' on women that left the breast tissue in place, allowing the cancer to return.

In some cases, he also advised treatment for women when they did not have cancer and offered them more expensive procedures.

Who has been affected? 675 out of 1,207 women who underwent the unregulated treatment had died by 2017.

Where did he work? Paterson worked at NHS hospitals in the West Midlands and private clinics including those run by Spire hospitals.

UHB has since reviewed all surviving patients, offering them treatment plans where applicable.

Deborah Douglas, of Solihull Breast Friends, has been driving the push for a recall of Spire patients and welcomed the health provider's latest announcement.

She added a virtual call was also going ahead between herself, other Paterson patient representatives and Spire before Christmas to discuss the recall.

Mrs Douglas said she had been in touch with Spire regularly throughout the year, adding the private provider had assured her it was writing to all patients who had a 'touch-point' with the surgeon.

'I welcome a robust recall,' she said, speaking on Friday - 17 years to the day she was operated on by Paterson.

She added: 'Letters have never before been sent to those people.

'There won't be a physical recall, but they will be offered a virtual meeting initially and then they can arrange any follow-up treatment.'

Mrs Douglas said: 'Equally, it is sad for those who have since died.

'Just last week, I had a man whose wife died a few years ago, who was never recalled.

'He had taken out a loan to pay for her treatment.

'After he looked at her medical notes for the mastectomy, he saw she had been left with margins and breast tissue.

'It's so sad.'

Spire said anyone who had received a letter, or simply if they were seen by Paterson but had not been contacted, could ring its freephone helpline on 0800 085 8130, and speak to a specialist about their treatment.

The helpline is running from 8.30am to 7pm Monday to Thursday, 8.30am to 6pm on Friday and 9am to 4pm on Saturday.

Alternatively, patients can email [email protected]

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