Following on from Gemma Crompton’s blog on 3 May 2017, Ian Paterson, who was a breast cancer surgeon, has been jailed for 15 years. He was found guilty of 17 counts of wounding with intent and three counts of unlawful wounding against ten patients at his trial in April 2017. Victims who put their trust in him underwent unnecessary operations including mastectomies.
Mr Paterson was criticised by the Judge for his “complete lack of remorse” and told “you deliberately played upon their worst fears, either by inventing or deliberately exaggerating the risk that they would develop cancer, and thereby gained their trust and confidence to consent to the surgical procedures which you carried out upon them.”
Shockingly, despite serious concerns being raised about him, Mr. Paterson was able to continue operating on patients for several years. Whilst this case is extreme, it is important that patients are able to place their trust in medical professionals. However, it is vital that they do have a right of redress if things go wrong.
The Government are currently looking into proposals to introduce fixed fees in clinical negligence cases where the damages awarded are £25,000 or less. If these proposals are implemented then due to the extensive amount of investigative work that is required, vulnerable patients may be unable to find a solicitor to take on their case. If patients are not able to approach solicitors regarding claims such as this then it may have a negative impact on patient safety as repetitive incidences from one source/surgeon may go unnoticed.
We are currently busy lobbying MP’s to highlight our unease with such a scheme, and asking that they raise awareness of the concerns. It is crucial that patients still have access to justice, and that where mistakes are made by hospitals and GP’s, lessons are learned to protect patient’s safety.