Senior coroner Louise Hunt said preliminary investigations gave her reason to believe the deaths “may have been caused or contributed to by acts or omissions in the treatment provided by Mr Paterson, and potentially by other clinicians involved in the care”.
The Glasgow-born surgeon was employed by Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust but had practising privileges in the independent sector at Spire Parkway and Spire Little Aston in Birmingham.
In 2017, he was jailed after being found guilty of 17 counts of wounding patients with intent, against ten victims.
Paterson was found to have carried out unnecessary operations in NHS and private hospitals, exaggerating or inventing cancer risks and claiming payments for more expensive procedures. He was handed a 15-year prison term, but Court of Appeal judges later increased his tariff to 20 years.
In September 2017, more than 750 patients he had treated received compensation from a £37 million fund.
An independent inquiry into the issues raised, published in February, found many of Paterson’s patients were “lied to, deceived or exploited”, though the consultant maintains his innocence.
The inquiry, chaired by retired Bishop of Norwich the Rt Rev Graham James, said the surgeon was able to go on performing unnecessary operations for years amid a “dysfunctional” healthcare system that failed patients.
He added there were “missed opportunities” to stop Paterson, describing the failure to suspend him in 2003 after an NHS colleague first raised concerns as “inexplicable”.
The inquiry was presented with NHS figures showing that of Paterson’s 1,206 mastectomy patients, 675 had died by 2017.
Ms Hunt, the senior coroner for Birmingham and Solihull, and her colleague Emma Brown, area coroner, formally opened the inquests yesterday in a hearing at Birmingham Coroner’s Court which took place remotely.
However, Ms Hunt said it was “likely” further inquests would be opened into the deaths of other former patients of Paterson.
The coroner is still investigating 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 Monday into the deaths of Deborah Hynes, 51, of Beacon Road, Sutton Coldfield, West Midlands, as well as Marie Pinfield, 50, Yvonne Cordon, 39, and Shionagh Gough, 76.