Tories promise inquiry into Bangor-born medic who disfigured patients
Jeremy Hunt has said an inquiry will be held into disgraced surgeon Ian Paterson, who is believed to have carried out needless operations on hundreds of patients.
Former Bangor Grammar pupil Ian Paterson - described by one victim as being "like God" - lied to patients and exaggerated or invented the risk of cancer to convince them to go under the knife, possibly to improve his earnings.
He was convicted last week of 17 counts of wounding with intent and three of unlawful wounding against 10 patients after a seven-week trial at Nottingham Crown Court.
A statement from the Health Secretary - issued by his spokesman, not the Department of Health, because of the upcoming general election - said that if the Conservative government returned to power, it would shine a closer light on Paterson's work to ensure lessons can be learnt.
But Linda Millband of Thompsons Solicitors, representing more than 350 of Paterson's private clients, said the issue should not be used as a "political football".
The national lead lawyer of Thompsons Solicitors said: "We have long called for an investigation into Mr Paterson's practices but any inquiry, however welcome, shouldn't be used as a stick with which to beat the NHS.
"The Health Secretary has promised a comprehensive, private inquiry but we are in an election campaign and this very serious matter must not become a political football.
"The findings of any inquiry must be made public."
Mr Hunt's statement said: "The conviction of Ian Paterson, and recent disclosures about the seriousness and extent of his malpractice, are profoundly shocking.
"A highly qualified medical professional, with a duty of care for his patients, totally neglected that duty and instead performed unnecessary procedures on a huge number of women.
"As a result I have agreed that, if returned to government, we will hold a comprehensive and focused inquiry to ensure that any lessons are learnt in the interests of ensuring patients are protected in future.
"We will take any testimony from those affected, their families, and others who may wish to come forward".
One of the victims of Scottish-born Paterson looked like a "car crash victim" after undergoing an unnecessary mastectomy, while another had a "significant deformity in her visible cleavage area" after a pair of needless operations on her left breast.
The surgeon had maintained all the operations were necessary but a jury of six men and five women agreed with the prosecution that he carried out "extensive, life-changing operations for no medically justifiable reason".
Paterson (59) of Altrincham, Greater Manchester, was released on conditional bail ahead of sentencing this month.
Earlier this week, former friends said Paterson joined Bangor Grammar's preparatory school, Connor House, in the mid-1960s after his parents moved to the seaside town from Scotland.
"When he arrived from Scotland, he was pretty quiet," recalled local journalist and businessman Colin Breen, who was one of Paterson's classmates.
"He kept himself to himself. He seemed conscious of being different, probably because of his accent, I suppose."
Another former prep school classmate said: "Ian was quiet - you wouldn't have found him messing about with the rest of the boys at break time or anything like that. He was bright academically, but slightly aloof - a bit of a loner."