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Paterson’s managers face searching investigation by Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service

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The ramifications of the case of criminal malpractice by convicted West Midlands breast surgeon Ian Paterson continue to rumble on. Paterson treated thousands of patients, at the Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust (HEFT) as well as in the private sector, from 1993 until he was suspended in 2011.

He carried out needless breast surgeries using unapproved techniques for breast cancer and his malpractice, which did not go unnoticed by colleagues who were reluctant to criticise him and management who failed to take appropriate action in light of those concerns, may have extended to general surgical procedures as well as breast surgery.

Shoosmiths understands that the former HEFT chief executive Dr Mark Goldman and acting medical director Dr Ian Cunliffe where the disgraced breast surgeon worked are facing further investigation by the General Medical Council (GMC) Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service later this month with potentially very serious professional consequences.

Dr Goldman and Dr Cunliffe are being investigated regarding their conduct as managers at a tribunal in Manchester. The tribunal will inquire into the allegation that in 2004 and during the period 2007 to 2009, Dr Goldman failed to protect patients from the risk of harm posed by Paterson’s breast surgical practice. It is also alleged that from June 2007 onwards, Dr Goldman did not report valid concerns about Paterson and his practice to the GMC.

The tribunal will also investigate allegations concerning Dr Cunliffe who similarly did not respond to the GMC’s request to disclose clinical concerns from June 2007 onwards and, like Dr Goldman, following the 2009 implementation of a protocol to identify patients who had undergone cleavage sparing mastectomy procedures, failed to protect those patients in that Paterson was allowed to review and refer patients himself under the protocol.

Kashmir Uppal, a specialist medical negligence solicitor at Shoosmiths who investigated and brought the first civil case against Mr Paterson in 2010 and is widely recognised as the lead solicitor in the Paterson case commented:

“Sadly, this news may further undermine public confidence in the commitment to patient safety. Paterson was able to do what he did for so long thanks to a serious failure of management both in the NHS and in the private sector. The public has to believe that the management of their NHS Trusts will do the right thing, sharing information and concerns with the appropriate regulatory and professional bodies, especially when asked to do so! This clearly was not the case at HEFT during the periods under investigation, with tragic consequences for many hundreds of people.”

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This information is for educational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. It is recommended that specific professional advice is sought before acting on any of the information given. © Shoosmiths LLP 2021

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