The Criminal Trial relating to the disgraced former NHS Surgeon, Ian Paterson, has now concluded with a jury finding him guilty of 17 counts of wounding with intent and three further wounding charges.
Paterson was a Consultant Breast Surgeon working at the Heart of England NHS Trust and Spire Healthcare private hospitals. The charges against him concern so-called “cleavage-sparing” mastectomies, a controversial procedure which leaves behind potentially cancerous tissue and a number of instances of unnecessary biopsies and lump removals.
There are over 1,000 potential victims of his negligent and unnecessary surgery with the cost to the NHS currently standing at nearly £10 million. The injuries to his victims include the unnecessary surgery, scarring and psychological effects.
This shocking story has been widely reported in the media and it is obviously worrying that a surgeon had been able to “play God” for such a long time, effecting such a vast amount of patients. Fortunately, in England and Wales, this situation is rare, but, when it does occur, it is vital that patients have the ability to access redress, justice and compensation.
The Government is currently considering whether to limit costs in clinical negligence cases. Paterson’s victims are exactly the type of vulnerable people who, under any future fixed cost regime, may not be able to find a solicitor able to assist due to the lengthy and complex investigations which are involved.
There are a number of unanswered questions regarding the Paterson case, namely why warnings and investigations were ignored, but one of the key aims now for the NHS and the Government must be to ensure that, if a similar situation does reoccur, patients can continue to access the justice that they deserve.