Hundreds of patients will seek compensation after breast surgeon Ian Paterson was sentenced to 15 years in jail for carrying out completely unnecessary operations on his patients for personal profit.
Paterson, 59, of Altrincham, Greater Manchester, was found guilty last week of 17 counts of wounding with intent, relating to nine women and one man. He was also found guilty of three counts of unlawful wounding at Nottingham Crown Court.
During the seven-week trial the court heard the accounts of 10 victims operated on between 1997 and 2011 at the privately-run Parkway and Little Aston hospitals in the West Midlands.
The court was told that Paterson, who treated thousands of patients during his career, exaggerated or invented cancer risks and claimed payments for more expensive procedures in some cases.
It is thought Paterson carried out hundreds of needless operations on NHS patients and one NHS hospital trust has already paid out £9.5 million in medical negligence compensation after settling cases brought by more than 250 of Paterson’s NHS patients, with individual compensation payments ranging from £18,000 to £150,000.
Some of his victims believed he wanted to “play God” with their lives and it is believed he may also have been driven by financial gain.
The court heard Paterson owned a luxury home in Edgbaston, Birmingham as well as numerous properties in Cardiff and Manchester and a holiday home in the United States.
Jurors heard that Paterson invented what he called a “cleavage-sparing mastectomy” – leaving breast tissue behind to achieve a better cosmetic effect rather than removing the whole breast – and performed it on many of his patients. But by doing so he left patients in great danger of developing secondary cancer.
In total, Paterson operated on 4,424 people, although he treated thousands more privately and it has been estimated that there are hundreds if not thousands of claimants.
Spire Healthcare, which runs the hospitals at Parkway and Little Aston, said after the ruling: “What Mr Paterson did in our hospitals, in other private hospitals and in the NHS, absolutely should not have happened and today justice has been done.
“We would like to reiterate how truly sorry we are for the distress experienced by any patients affected by this case.”
Heart of England NHS Trust said: “We welcome the verdict and appreciate the distress caused to Ian Paterson’s patients and families.”
Paterson was suspended in 1996 by a previous employer, but two years later he was appointed to the Heart of England NHS Trust. His ‘methods’ were first investigated in 2003 and in 2004 an internal report on his conduct made recommendations that were not acted upon.
The disgraced surgeon continued to operate until the middle of 2011 and in 2012 Paterson was suspended by the General Medical Council.