Mr Ian Paterson, breast surgeon, has been suspended from the surgical register following an Interim Orders Panel hearing by the General Medical Council (GMC) on 29th October, while investigations in to his practice are ongoing. It was confirmed last night that a criminal investigation has also been launched by West Midlands Police.

Mr Paterson has previously courted controversy as a pioneer of “cleavage sparing mastectomies”; a procedure he performed at three Birmingham hospitals which involved leaving a small amount of tissue behind following removal of the breast, for aesthetic purposes. Mr Paterson’s actions were found to be in breach of national guidelines stating that leaving breast tissue behind following mastectomy increased the likelihood of cancer recurring. 

We commented in a blog in December 2011 that Mr Paterson’s actions had resulted in several hundred of his former patients being recalled for urgent re-examination, to determine whether or not their health has been put at risk. Conditions were also placed upon Mr Paterson’s registration; however, he was still able to conduct outpatient appointments until the recent decision to suspend him to allow investigations to continue.

Fresh concerns have recently come to the fore, albeit regarding a different aspect of Mr Paterson’s practice. It appears that Mr Paterson may have unnecessarily performed surgery to remove non-cancerous lumps from patients, which could have been investigated by way of a simple biopsy, without the need for surgery. The Spire Healthcare Group, in conjunction with the GMC and the Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust state that “our investigations have revealed some irregularities in his practice that may go against recognised treatment standards…we are reviewing the medical records of Ian Paterson’s patients who underwent specific procedures for benign (non-cancerous) breast pathology. We will notify every patient whose notes have been reviewed and offer each a face-to-face consultation about their care…”. Furthermore, in the light of concerns that Mr Paterson has also made false claims to health insurers, it seems that his insalubrious practices are finally facing the scrutiny they deserve as a criminal inquiry has also begun.

As experienced medical negligence solicitors, we have expert knowledge in dealing with issues surrounding inappropriate treatment of breast cancer, and we have been instructed by a number of Mr Paterson’s former patients who have suffered as a result of inappropriately performed surgery.