Disgraced breast surgeon Ian Paterson has been ordered to submit to an independent assessment to establish his mental capacity after claiming he is too ill to fight legal action because he is suffering psychiatric problems.
Compensation claims from private patients have previously been stalled after a report to the High Court commissioned by his legal team claimed he was not fit to face the allegations.
Now Mr Justice Charles, sitting at the Royal Courts of Justice, ordered the doctor’s defence team to allow an independent assessment of his mental capacity to take place.
Five women are leading a High Court damages action in which Paterson is accused of carrying out unnecessary operations after misdiagnosing breast cancer.
The women claim they were negligently treated by the surgeon, who also faces claims he performed incomplete mastectomies, leading to cancer returning or the need for substantial corrective surgery.
Paterson, who worked at the NHS Solihull Hospital and privately-run Little Aston Spire and Solihull Spire Hospitals until 2012, is also accused of carrying out unnecessary operations on hundreds of patients.
NHS compensation claims have already been settled, but hundreds of private patients have been left in legal limbo after the Medical Defence Union (MDU) withdrew their insurance for the doctor after claiming his actions fell outside of their insurance terms.
The psychiatric assessment ruling is a victory for private patients said Nisha Sharma, clinical negligence lawyer at Slater and Gordon, who are representing a number of the victims.
She said: “Ian Paterson has caused unimaginable harm and trauma to the lives of his victims yet they are still waiting for justice because of his delays.
“We have been extremely disappointed that the civil cases against Mr Paterson have been delayed due to his legal team’s failure to comply with the orders of the court.
“He seems to be intent on wasting the courts’ time and adding further suffering to the patients he knowingly put in danger.
“However, despite the additional delays, today’s hearing was very positive and we would like to praise Lord Justice Charles for taking a strong stance and ordering Mr Paterson’s legal team to provide disclosure to facilitate his capacity being assessed.”
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