A year ago this month the Right Reverend Graham James, Bishop of Norwich, published the findings of an independent inquiry into malpractice by convicted breast surgeon Ian Paterson.
Paterson, who performed unsafe and often unnecessary surgery, worked at the Heart of England NHS Trust (HEFT) and practiced privately at private hospitals in Solihull and Sutton Coldfield, now run by Spire Healthcare.
He was sentenced to 20 years in jail after being convicted of 17 counts of wounding with intent and three counts of unlawful wounding against ten patients. Inquests are yet to be held for a number of his patients who have since died.
The inquiry report gave 15 recommendations that addressed patient safety issues and it was expected that the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) would publish its response this week. However, that written response has been delayed due to the COVID-19 crisis diverting resources from this work according to a government statement.
In a ministerial statement, Nadine Dorries assured the public that the government’s focus will resume: “as soon as these unprecedented circumstances are behind us and remains committed to implementing considered and effective improvement in the areas set out in the Inquiry’s recommendations”.
Kashmir Uppal, who has represented Paterson’s patients in seeking justice was the lead solicitor in the Paterson case before she joined Shoosmiths as a medical negligence partner. She continues to represent women who have only just discovered that they were treated by Paterson. Kashmir said:
“I remain concerned that the response and the proposals, when they come, may not fill all the gaps which allowed Paterson to harm vulnerable patients for so many years. We are particularly concerned that representatives from patient groups have been excluded from the Board, which has instead chosen to include representatives from Macmillan Cancer Support and Breast Cancer Now charities.
Whilst these charities should rightfully be at the table, so too should those who actually went through the ordeal. Paterson manipulated the consent process in particular so surely those people who were privy to those consent discussions can add real value to ensure protection of patient safety both in the NHS and private sector moving forwards.”