Belfast Telegraph

Independent inquiry into rogue NI breast surgeon is welcomed

By Jennifer Cockerell

Victims of a disgraced breast surgeon who grew up in Northern Ireland have welcomed plans for an independent inquiry into his malpractice.

Ian Paterson (59), who lived in Bangor, Co Down, was sentenced to 20 years in prison for wrecking hundreds of lives with his bungled surgeries.

Yesterday the Government announced further plans for an inquiry, which will be chaired by the Right Reverend Graham James, Bishop of Norwich.

It will examine the circumstances surrounding Paterson's malpractice and look at how this can improve care locally and the independent healthcare sector across the country to ensure private patients have the safeguards they expect.

Tracey Smith, who was operated on by Paterson in 2010, said: "We're happy that we seem to be finally getting somewhere after five years.

"We've kept on the fight also for the ladies that didn't make it past treatment by Paterson, and their families, to get answers as to why he was allowed to continue after red flags were raised."

The mother-of-one said she wanted other people to be held to account, "and the dysfunctional system under which he was allowed to work, scrutinised".

The inquiry, which is expected to take 18 months, will be informed by Paterson's victims and their families, and will look at the work he did under the NHS as well as the private sector.

It is likely to examine the responsibility for the quality of care in the independent sector, along with the appraisal and ensuring validation of staff in the independent sector and the safety of multi-disciplinary working.

It will also look at information sharing, reporting of activity and raising concerns between the independent sector and the NHS, and is expected to consider whether GPs should have access to the notes of privately treated patients.

The role of insurers of independent-sector healthcare providers will also be scrutinised, including how data it holds about the scope and volume of work carried out by doctors is shared with the sector, and arrangements for medical indemnity cover for clinicians in the independent sector.

The inquiry will be formally established in January and is expected to report in summer 2019.

Paterson, a consultant breast surgeon who was employed by the Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust (HEFT), intentionally wounded his patients by exaggerating or inventing cancer risks and claimed payments for more expensive procedures.

Paterson, who had practising privileges in the independent sector at both Spire Parkway and Spire Little Aston in Birmingham, was found guilty in April of 17 counts of wounding patients with intent.

Yesterday's details follow a pledge by Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt to hold a "comprehensive and focused inquiry" into Paterson's wrongdoing.

The Association of Independent Healthcare Organisations welcomed the announcement.

Chief executive Fiona Booth said: "The Government is right to emphasise the importance of patient safety. We look forward to making a constructive contribution to the inquiry."

Belfast Telegraph

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