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More inquests opened into deaths of disgraced Northern Ireland surgeon's victims

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Surgeon Ian Paterson

Surgeon Ian Paterson

Surgeon Ian Paterson

Seven inquests have now been opened into the deaths of women treated by a rogue breast surgeon who grew up in Co Down.

Area coroner Emma Brown said she had reason to believe three further deaths "may have been caused or contributed to by acts or omissions" in the treatment provided by Ian Paterson, "and potentially by other clinicians involved in the care".

Four inquests linked to the Birmingham and Solihull coroner's preliminary investigations into patients of Paterson were opened and adjourned earlier this month. They include that of Yvonne Cordon, a cleaner born in Co Antrim but living in Birmingham.

Paterson was found to have carried out unnecessary operations in NHS and private hospitals, exaggerating or inventing cancer risks and claiming for more expensive procedures.

He was employed by Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust (HEFT) but had practising privileges in the independent sector at Spire Parkway and Spire Little Aston in Birmingham.

He was jailed in 2017 after being found guilty of 17 counts of wounding patients with intent, against 10 victims. He was handed a 15-year prison term, but Court of Appeal judges later increased his tariff to 20 years.

The independent Paterson Inquiry into the issues raised, published in February, found that many of Paterson's patients were "lied to, deceived or exploited", though the consultant maintains his innocence.

Ms Brown formally opened the additional inquests in a hearing conducted over a video-link at Birmingham Coroner's Court, to comply with Covid-19 guidance.

She added it was "anticipated" that further inquests would be opened.

The coroner's office is still carrying out investigations into those cases, after being asked by West Midlands Police in January to examine a sample of 23 deaths of former Paterson patients.

Inquests were opened on Wednesday into the deaths of jewellery-maker Judith Bruce, who was 47, kitchen assistant Christine Gould, 56, and housewife Lindsey Phipps, who was 57 at the time of her death.

Miss Bruce, born in Portsmouth, Hampshire, but latterly of Chelmsley Wood, Solihull, died at Good Hope Hospital on August 6, 2005.

Cause of death was given at the time as breast carcinoma with liver metastases.

Mrs Gould, of Willow Road, Solihull, was born in Smethwick, West Midlands, and died at a care home in Edgbaston on May 24, 2003.

Her cause of death was recorded as metastatic breast cancer.

Mrs Phipps, of Morville Close, Dorridge, Solihull, was born in London, and died at Solihull Hospital on October 30, 2017.

Medical cause of death was a lower respiratory tract infection due to metastatic breast cancer.

Adjourning the hearings, the coroner said the inquests were "likely" to be Article 2 hearings, which covers a much broader sweep of issues.

Other issues likely to be raised included "any failings" by colleagues, management and corporate governance, or any systemic failings or inaction by regulators.

Investigations into whether other inquests would be opened are continuing, the coroner said.

The court has already opened inquests into the deaths of four other women - Ms Cordon, Deborah Hynes, Marie Pinfield and Shionagh Gough.

Belfast Telegraph