Almost 3 years after surgeon Ian Paterson was convicted for 17 counts of wounding with intent and 3 counts of unlawful wounding and imprisoned, the "Paterson Inquiry report" was released on the 4th February 2020. Now the dust has settled, we have had opportunity to review and consider the harrowing report.

Paterson worked at the Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust, Spire Parkway and Little Aston (previously owned and run by Bupa until 2007). Most of those treated by Paterson were women, who underwent breast procedures, one of which Paterson termed a "cleavage sparing mastectomy"- this is not recognised practice. There are a number of reported cases where patients have received incomplete, unnecessary or even harmful treatment which has led to long-term avoidable health issues and possibly contributed to some deaths. In many cases, Paterson failed to obtain proper and adequate consent from patients.

It is of great concern to all that, while not surprising, the inquiry tells a "story of a healthcare system which proved itself dysfunctional at almost every level when it came to keeping patients safe, and where those who were the victims of Paterson’s malpractice were let down time and time again". This is further compounded by the recent news of the suspension and investigations regarding numerous treatments provided by shoulder surgeon, Mike Walsh, who also worked at Spire Healthcare Leeds, the very same institution that Paterson worked at- we take a closer look regarding the issues surrounding Mike Walsh in our article here.

While a lot can be learned from the inquiry report, one point in particular that was highlighted within the report but often under-appreciated relates to the lack of regulation in medical professional indemnity providers. The report correctly identified that Medical Defence Organisations (such as the Medical Defence Union in this case), have a discretionary power to withdraw cover when a claim is brought. In the case of Paterson, the MDU withdrew cover in respect of patients who were treated privately, as Paterson's actions were criminal. While the NHS Resolution who provide indemnity to NHS Trusts also has the same discretionary power, it was reported that they have not withdrawn indemnity. By withdrawing indemnity, patients are unable to receive proper compensation, yet calls for reform and real regulation of such indemnity providers go unanswered.

Ultimately, Paterson leaves a legacy of numerous patients who have suffered at his hands and by the "wilful blindness" of those around him, and who now have to live with the devastating effects of his malpractice. Clinical Negligence can and will happen, and when it does, it can be difficult to rebuild and recover. If you have reason to believe that you or a loved one have suffered an injury as a result of clinical negligence, please get in touch with a member of our Clinical Negligence team on 0800 804 450 or fill out an online enquiry form. A member of our team will be able to discuss whether there is grounds to bring a claim for compensation to help rebuild and recover.