Today the long awaited Verita Review into Mr Ian Paterson’s practices at the Spire Little Aston and Spire Parkway was published.
Ian Paterson was a Consultant Breast Surgeon who worked at both private hospitals and for the Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust, Birmingham. He was suspended from working as a doctor by the GMC pending investigation into his breast surgery practices. The main issues with Mr Paterson’s practices were that he was performing incomplete or “Cleavage Sparing Mastectomies” (CSM), unnecessary breast surgery, colorectal surgery, vascular surgery and general surgery. His practices at the Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust were investigated by Sir Ian Kennedy whose report was published just before Christmas.
Up until now the Spire Healthcare Limited have not made much comment on the practices that went on at their premises. This report confirms that they were made aware in December 2007 of the NHS’s concerns surrounding Mr Paterson’s practice. As a result, Spire’s Hospital Director asked Mr Paterson to stop performing CSM procedures by letter in January 2008. However, no checks were put in place to ensure he complied with this demand. Additionally, and despite the information which had been provided to them, the Spire failed to undertake any of their own investigation into his practices until 2011. The report highlights that by 11 June 2009 the Spire had good grounds to consider withdrawing Mr Paterson’s practising privileges but failed to do so. In fact, even once the Trust had formally suspended Mr Paterson in May 2011 he was allowed to continue practising at the Spire for another week after this. Our reading of this report is that there were grounds to withdraw Mr Paterson’s practising privileges much earlier than 2009.
It would seem that Mr Paterson’s negligence spread into wider areas of his private practice, with concerns being raised about the fact that he was undertaking general surgeries which he was not undertaking within his NHS practice and for which he had not been satisfactorily appraised. Despite those concerns being raised on at least nine occasions and despite repeated requests from the Medical Director of the hospital and the Medical Advice (?) Committee that he stop performing these procedures, Mr Paterson continued to do so. It is very clear that Spire failed to take proper action against him to compel him to comply with the request and in doing so knowingly continued to put patients at risk.
As a firm we are now representing 30 clients who had treatment by Mr Paterson at the Spire. We welcome this report and the recommendations which have been made by Verita as a result. However the long delay in the publication of this report has caused a lot of angst for our clients, who felt that the entire complaints and recall procedure undertaken by Spire did not adequately deal with their concerns and left many of them even more unsure of how their treatment had been affected . However, now that it is here, the report highlights many failings on the part of the Spire, who it would appear, put their business concerns above patient safety and failed to instigate any proper investigation in to Mr Paterson until it was too late. Strikingly, the Verita report notes that
“Had consideration been given to withdrawing them (practising privileges) in September 2009 and had – after consideration – they actually been withdrawn, then events beyond that date would have been avoided”. Many of our clients had unnecessary surgeries after this date and I am sure will find it difficult to hear that this could and should have been prevented.
The other worrying issue raised by the report is that the Spire’s recall of Mr Paterson’s patients is still not complete. The recall started in 2011 and we are now 3 years on. It is clear that there remain some patients who have no idea whether the treatment they received from Mr Paterson was appropriate or not and this will no doubt cause grave concern.
To date the Spire have not admitted liability or offered compensation to any of our clients who suffered at the hands of Mr Paterson in the private sector. I now hope that as a result of this report the Spire will now take action and admit their failings in each of these cases.
If you have any concerns about treatment you had from Mr Paterson and are considering pursuing a clinical negligence claim in relation to this you can contact Rebecca Brown on 0207 657 1605 or Emma Doughty on 0207 657 1614.