Belfast Telegraph

Private patients of rogue breast doctor face court battle for compensation

Ian Paterson was found guilty last week
Ian Paterson was found guilty last week

By Staff Reporter

Women who paid thousands of pounds for unnecessary breast surgery carried out by rogue surgeon Ian Paterson must fight for compensation because of a legal loophole.

The NHS alone has paid out nearly £18m after settling the cases of more than 250 patients treated by top surgeon and former Bangor Grammar pupil Ian Paterson (59), who was described in court by one victim as being "like God".

On Friday, Birmingham-based Paterson was convicted of 17 counts of wounding with intent and three counts of unlawful wounding against 10 patients.

One solicitor said he could have "hundreds, if not thousands" of other victims.

But women who were private patients face a legal nightmare after hospitals group Spire and Paterson's insurers, the Medical Defence Union, denied liability for his actions.

Around 400 women are now having to sue in the civil courts for damages, it was revealed yesterday. The courts will decide where liability lies and on the appropriate level of compensation.

A spokesman for Irwin Mitchell, a law firm suing Paterson and Spire, told the Sunday Telegraph: "People think they have better cover going private, but the NHS provides much better cover if things go wrong."

One victim 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 maintained all the operations were necessary, but a jury of six men and five women at Nottingham Crown Court agreed with the prosecution that Paterson carried out "extensive, life-changing operations for no medically justifiable reason".

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 breaktime or anything like that. He was bright academically, but slightly aloof - a bit of a loner."

A third former pupil added: "I remember that he was a good rugby player - he was a hooker and he captained the first XV. He was a clever enough fellow, but even though he took part in team games he never really mixed.

"I remember him well and his prowess on the rugby field, but strangely enough I don't really remember anything about him other than he was there."

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