Surgeon Ian Paterson was convicted in May of 17 counts of wounding with intent and sentenced to 15 years in prison for carrying out unnecessary breast operations on nine women and one man. Significant numbers of other former patients of Paterson’s were similarly harmed. Yesterday the Government announced an inquiry into the “‘issues raised by the Paterson case.”
The setting up of an inquiry is probably not unexpected in the circumstances. What might be a little more surprising is that it is a non-statutory inquiry and that it will be chaired not by a judge, but by a senior Bishop (Right Revd Graham James, Bishop of Norwich).
The work of the inquiry will start formally next month and will report within about 18 months, by summer 2019. This timeframe for its investigation is fairly swift when compared to other current inquiries, but there may be concerns that its non-statutory basis may limit its ability to collect evidence and hear from relevant witnesses.
The inquiry’s precise terms of reference have yet to be published, but it is clear from yesterday’s Ministerial statement (available here on the Parliament website) that information sharing between the independent and the state healthcare sectors will be scrutinised, as will arrangements for indemnity cover and the role of insurers of clinicians in the independent sector.
We shall provide a further update once the terms of reference have been made available.