Spire Healthcare has sent recall letters to at least 5,500 patients seen by surgeon Ian Paterson, currently serving a 20-year prison sentence, for 17 counts of wounding with intent by carrying out unnecessary surgery on men and women.
Paterson was employed by Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust (HEFT) and had practicing privileges at the independent Spire Parkway, Solihull and Spire Little Aston in Birmingham. He performed unregulated "cleavage-sparing" mastectomies, in which cancerous tissue was left behind, meaning the disease returned in many of his patients while others who did not have breast cancer had surgery they simply did not need.
The independent inquiry led by the Right Reverend Graham James, former Bishop of Norwich made 15 recommendations, including a call for Spire to check that all Paterson's patients had been recalled, with the private provider asked to "mirror" NHS arrangements by offering ongoing care.
One of our clients has received a letter dated 06 November 2020 in response to her initial email enquiry to the Spire patient helpline on 10 February 2020.
The tardiness of their reply is attributed by Spire to the time taken to collect records and delays caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
Kashmir Uppal, Shoosmiths medical negligence partner who was instrumental in pursuing the truth behind Paterson’s malpractice, has concerns about this “recall” - which will be conducted virtually online. The letter from Spire states that our client’s records were reviewed as part of an internal ‘lookback’ investigation and apologises for the fact that they did not communicate with those patients being reviewed at the time. Our client and others have been told in the letter that “the parameters of the review at that time meant that you were not recommended for recall’.
“What exactly were the parameters of that initial internal review? Are they saying that they only recalled patients who had suspicious findings on pathological examination of breast samples? Perhaps more significantly, why did that initial lookback review not include women who had a wide local excision (WLE) as breast-conserving surgery without first having a biopsy or fine needle aspiration?”
Kashmir is also concerned about the liability position as the terms of settlement of the previous tranche of cases in September 2017, set a longstop of October 2018 for any further claims to be included in the settlement fund. It would be unjust for Spire to now submit that no further claims can be brought when they failed to contact the former patients at the relevant time.