Inquests open into deaths of 13 of rogue Scottish surgeon's patients

A further 13 inquests have been opened into the deaths of former patients of the disgraced breast surgeon Ian Paterson.

Consultant Paterson, 62, was convicted in 2017 of 17 counts of wounding with intent and three counts of unlawful wounding.

An inquiry later found Paterson, from Glasgow, performed botched or unnecessary operations on more than 1,000 patients over 14 years while on private patients in England, exaggerating or inventing cancer risks and claiming payments for more expensive procedures.

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His 2017 Nottingham Crown Court trial heard how he carried out unapproved ‘cleavage-sparing’ mastectomies on patients which left behind breast tissue, risking a return of cancer.

He was initially jailed for 15 years, before the Court of Appeal increased his sentence to a 20-year term.

Paterson lost a 2021 bid to challenge his conviction, where three senior judges heard Paterson were told he still denies any misconduct.

In January 2020, West Midlands Police asked Birmingham and Solihull senior coroner Louise Hunt to look at a “random selection” of 23 former patients of Paterson’s, to decide whether any died of unnatural causes due to “potentially substandard treatment”.

In July 2020, inquests into the deaths of seven of those patients were then opened and adjourned.

Serving 20 years: rogue surgeon Ian Paterson

But the coronial investigation has been continuing, beyond that original selection of cases.

Further inquests opened and adjourned at Birmingham Coroner’s Court on Friday.

Future inquests would consider “any failings in supervision” of Paterson, including by “clinical colleagues” and whether they “should have informed the appropriate authorities”.

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The evidence would also examine whether there were “systemic failings by hospital management… in addressing and responding to concerns raised about Mr Paterson”.

“Any inaction or failure of supervision by the regulatory agencies… any failings in the culture at the hospitals where Mr Paterson worked (and)… any failings in the recall system of patients,” would also be examined.

She stressed to loved ones of those attending the openings that the adjournments were “pending the review of all the other cases”, after which there would be a pre-inquest review. Police and the Coroner want to know if senior, or even junior colleagues, were suspicious of Paterson but failed to take action due to his standing thereby putting further patients at risk.

Many experts have said Paterson was obsessed with his own capabilities in the operating theatre and brooked no challenge of his skills or judgement from colleagues of any standing.

The final inquests would “likely” be held under Article 2 human rights provisions “given the apparent serious defaults by a number of state organisations” said Ms Hunt, meaning the coroner would be looking at the wider circumstances of the deaths.

Ms Hunt added: “It is my duty to ensure the relevant facts will be fully, fairly and fearlessly investigated and its likely a report to prevent futures deaths will be considered.

An independent inquiry published in February 2020 said Paterson, who operated at NHS and Spire Healthcare hospitals in the West Midlands, performed unnecessary operations amid “dysfunctional” healthcare system that failed patients, and recommending more than 11,000 of his patients be recalled.

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