It has been over a decade since Ian Paterson, the disgraced surgeon who is now behind bars for assaulting his patients, was suspended. But despite the passage of time, many are only just finding out that they were victims. In recent months, the number of people approaching leading medical negligence law firm Pryers Solicitors has steadily increased. Now a further £22m has been set aside to fund a new Ian Paterson compensation scheme.
Throughout the first decade of the 21st century, a number of patients and colleagues raised concerns about Paterson’s practice. It wasn’t until 2011 that he was suspended from operating.
The various investigations that followed – including a criminal prosecution – exposed the sheer scale of his operation. A Government report recognised “it is not simply a story about a rogue surgeon… it is far worse. It is the story of a healthcare system which proved itself dysfunctional at almost every level when it came to keeping patients safe, and where those who were the victims of Paterson’s malpractice were let down time and time again”.
What did Ian Paterson do?
Ian Paterson treated thousands of patients. Many of Paterson’s victims endured treatment they did not need including unnecessary chemotherapy, vein stripping and mastectomies. Some of his patients even underwent multiple treatments that were of no benefit to them.
Paterson invented a new procedure – cleavage sparing mastectomies. Paterson told his patients that these involved leaving some tissue behind intentionally, to preserve their natural cleavage. In a normal mastectomy, the whole breast is removed to treat cancer. Leaving breast tissue behind meant there was a greater chance of the cancer returning.
A new Ian Paterson Compensation Scheme
In 2017, a group of law firms representing hundreds of victims agreed a £37m fund to settle their claims. It has since been reported that the agreement precluded them from representing any additional victims.
Four years since the initial agreement, thousands more patients have been recalled and could be entitled to compensation. The legal team representing the hospital where Ian Paterson once committed his crimes have asked the court to allow the solicitors, who previously agreed not to be involved in any further claims, to represent newly identified victims once again.
Tamlin Bolton, a Senior Solicitor at Pryers who is representing some of Paterson’s victims, said “It’s abhorrent how Ian Paterson abused a position of trust to assault innocent and unknowing victims. The fact that more patients continue to be added to his list of victims a decade after he was suspended, is both shocking and appalling”. She added “Not only does it mean that we are still yet to understand the true scale of what he did, but as time passes, the prospect of poor outcomes for his mis-treated cancer patients increases”.
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