Hundreds of private patients seek compensation from rogue surgeon

Jamie Grierson
Ian Paterson was convicted of 17 counts of wounding with intent and three counts of unlawful wounding for carrying out needless operations. Photograph: Joe Giddens/PA

Hundreds of private patients of a surgeon convicted of carrying out needless breast operations are seeking compensation after nearly £18m worth of claims were made against the NHS.

Ian Paterson, 59, was convicted on Friday of 17 counts of wounding with intent and three counts of unlawful wounding against 10 patients, upon whom he conducted “extensive, life-changing operations for no medically justifiable reason”.

More than 250 NHS patients have received payouts, and it has now emerged that around 350 patients who underwent treatment at private Spire Healthcare clinics in the West Midlands are also taking civil action against Paterson and the firm.

Paterson, described in court by one victim as being “like God”, lied to patients and exaggerated or invented the risk of cancer to convince them to go under his knife.

Thompsons Solicitors, a firm representing the private patients, said Spire Healthcare’s treatment of those who complained had been shabby.

“We are determined to secure appropriate compensation for every single one of our clients, some of whom found the courage to come forward only as recently as four weeks ago,” said Linda Millband, the lead national lawyer at the firm.

“Spire needs to face up to its responsibilities, because they let him operate well after he was suspended by the NHS.”

A freedom of information request revealed the NHS had resolved 256 cases, paying out £9.5m in compensation and £8.2m in costs. Another 25 cases are still to be heard.

Paterson was suspended by the General Medical Council in 2011.

He sobbed as the jury returned the guilty verdicts at Nottingham crown court. He was released on conditional bail ahead of sentencing in May, when he faces a custodial sentence.

One patient who gave evidence in the trial had 27 biopsy cores taken from her healthy right breast and had “absolutely not” received medical best practice.

A Spire Healthcare spokesman said: “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. We can say unequivocally that we have learned the lessons from these events.

“We commissioned a thorough independent investigation and have fully implemented all of the recommendations.”