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There may be more victims of disgraced Bangor breast surgeon Paterson

By Richard Vernalls

Health campaigners fear that patients who were wrongly treated by a disgraced breast surgeon with links to Northern Ireland - who was jailed for performing needless operations - may have been missed despite several reviews.

Cancer survivors operated on by Ian Paterson, who grew up in Bangor, have called on his former employers to ensure that all former patients have been contacted.

The campaigners fear the NHS and private breast treatment reviews which have been carried out to date risk missing out Paterson's general surgery patients, who had operations such as gall bladder removal.

Paterson was employed by Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust (HEFT) and also worked at hospitals run by Spire Healthcare before he was suspended in 2011.

Reviews were carried out by Spire in 2014 and HEFT in 2013, with the NHS hospital trust saying it had reviewed or cross-checked nearly 24,500 patient records to assess whether Paterson was involved in their care.

Both organisations have paid out millions in damages to hundreds of affected cancer patients.

Deborah Douglas, who helps run the Breast Friends support group, said: "For me the big thing now is how many other people were affected.

"We want those facts - we want those figures."

Paterson, then 59, was found guilty in April at Nottingham Crown Court of 17 counts of wounding with intent, after carrying out "cleavage-sparing mastectomies", leaving patients at risk of cancer, and other procedures.

He was jailed for 15 years, increased to 20 years on appeal after a judge ruled the original term "unduly lenient".

In December, the Department of Health announced a broader independent inquiry into Paterson's malpractice and the wider lessons to be learned, falling short of the full public inquiry campaigners wanted.

Mrs Douglas (59), said she had little faith in the investigation's chances of uncovering significant new information, as it had no powers to compel people to give evidence.

However, the mother-of-three added that it could provide a "step forward" if full statistics on patient numbers, both of those still alive and those who have since died, come out as a result of the inquiry.

HEFT said 1,206 patients seen by Paterson had mastectomies and of those, 675 have since died.

In all, 19,000 patients' records were checked this way to see if Paterson had any involvement. HEFT said: "A review of the deceased patients cannot repair any damage that has already been caused, nor is it likely to inform the trust of anything that it is not already aware of, or provide any tangible benefit to the survivors in this cohort.

"It is reasonable to assume there were similar deficiencies in the treatment of the deceased patients, which may have impacted adversely on their period of life without disease and their survival."

A Spire spokesman said: "Spire Healthcare welcomes the announcement of the independent inquiry and is keen to participate in any way required."

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