Surgeon’s victims get 37m payout
About 750 victims of rogue breast surgeon Ian Paterson are to be paid compensation from a new £37m fund.
Private healthcare firm Spire has agreed to pay £27.2m, with £10m coming from Paterson’s insurers and the Heart of England NHS Trust.
Paterson was found guilty of 17 counts of wounding with intent in April after a trial at Nottingham Crown Court.
In August, he had his 15-year jail term increased to 20 years after the Appeal Court ruled his term was too lenient.
The payments concern patients treated at private Spire Healthcare hospitals in the West Midlands, who Paterson worked for when he carried out hundreds of botched operations.
The fund is intended to halt legal proceedings by patients against the group and account for any new claims.
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Heart of England NHS Trust was part of the civil action because patients said it failed to notify Spire of Paterson’s dangerous methods discovered while working for Solihull Hospital.
The NHS has already paid out £9.49m in damages, as well as £8.31m costs, to hundreds of others treated by Paterson, 59, from Altrincham, Greater Manchester.
Ian Paterson’s victims fall broadly into two camps. Those who underwent unnecessary surgery, and those who did need operations but were left prone to cancer returning because of the untried technique he used.
The criminal trial dealt with cases from the first group – nine women and a man who were either subjected to intrusive surgery or had their breasts removed despite there being no evidence that there was anything wrong them.
The civil case which was settled today involved the many others whose cases did not come to court, as well as those who were treated using something called a cleavage-sparing operation in which tumours were removed but potentially cancerous tissue was left behind.
The technique was something that was only ever performed by Paterson and never properly tested.
The surgeon’s trial heard he wildly exaggerated his patients’ cancer symptoms, leading them to have several needless operations which left them scarred for life physically and emotionally.
Fellow medics at Solihull Hospital first raised concerns about his conduct in 2002 when it emerged Paterson, who grew up in County Down, Northern Ireland, was carrying out unregulated ‘cleavage-sparing’ mastectomies on cancer patients, which left them at higher risk of the disease returning.
Despite three reports into his actions, he carried on working until 2011 when he was suspended by the trust.
Hundreds of Paterson’s private patients were due to take their case for compensation to the High Court in October.
In its statement, Spire said the agreement was conditional on all parties agreeing, and the court approving, the terms of a formal court order.
It said the order would also “provide for a portion of the fund to be set aside to provide compensation for any former patient of Mr Paterson who has not yet brought a legitimate claim against Spire Healthcare and the other defendants, but does so prior to 30 October 2018.”
Simon Gordon, interim chief executive at Spire, said: “Earlier this year a criminal court decided that Ian Paterson must bear responsibility for his actions, finding him guilty of assaulting a number of his patients.
“He behaved with clear criminal intent and abused the trust of those who looked to him for his care and relied upon his expertise.”
Mr Gordon added: “However, whilst nothing diminishes Mr Paterson’s responsibility for his actions, these events took place in our hospitals, and this should not have happened.
“We accept that better clinical governance in the private hospitals where Mr Paterson practised, as well as in his NHS trust, might have led to action being taken sooner, and it is right that we have made a material contribution to the settlement announced today.
“We have apologised unreservedly to Mr Paterson’s patients for their suffering and distress and we would like to repeat that apology.”
Emma Doughty, a specialist medical negligence lawyer from Slater and Gordon, which represents more than 100 of Paterson’s victims, said no financial settlement would heal the physical and mental scars inflicted on their clients but added they were relieved to have won their battle for justice.
Lawyers Irwin Mitchell, which represents 30 patients, echoed the sentiment but said questions still remain about the redress that private healthcare patients have if they are the victims of negligent treatment.
It also said the sum set aside by Spire is likely to be less than the patients will need.