The deaths of 650 patients treated by a breast surgeon who carried out 1,000 botched operations are being investigated.
Ian Paterson was found to have been convicted in 2017 of 17 counts of wounding with intent and three counts of unlawful wounding and is now serving a 20-year sentence.
An inquiry found he carried out unnecessary operations in NHS and private hospitals on more than 1,000 patients over 14 years, exaggerating or inventing cancer risks and claiming payments for more expensive procedures.
Medical experts are now looking through records belonging to women under his care.
His 2017 Nottingham Crown Court trial heard how he carried out unapproved ‘cleavage-sparing’ mastectomies on patients which left behind the breast tissue, risking a return of cancer.
Ian Paterson (pictured) was found to have been convicted in 2017 of 17 counts of wounding with intent and three counts of unlawful wounding and is now serving a 20-year sentence
He was initially jailed for 15 years before the Court of Appeal increased his sentence to a 20-year term.
The surgeon worked for the NHS and built a practice at two private hospitals run by Spire Healthcare in Birmingham.
Some of Paterson’s patients underwent unnecessary chemotherapy, tests and other procedures.
The Times reported that 27 inquests have been opened as a result of cases where coroners ‘believe there is evidence to have reason to suspect that some of those deaths may be unnatural’.
The court heard that there had been ‘no medically justifiable reason’ for many of the procedures, conducted for financial gain between 1997 and 2011.
The investigation is to be led by deputy high court judge Richard Foster, who is experienced in medical negligence cases.
According to the families who have been impacted by Paterson and sources close to the inquest, 650 deaths are being looked into.
An inquiry has also already discovered hundreds of other patients that had inappropriate or unnecessary operations and treatment.
One of Paterson’s victims, Marie Pinfield, wanted a double mastectomy to remove all her breast tissue. Pictured: Marie Pinfield with sister Shirley Moroney
Victim Patricia Welch speaks outside Nottingham Crown Court following Ian Paterson’s sentencing in 2017
Out of 1,206 mastectomy patients, 675 had died, according to a report by the Heart of England NHS Trust, compiled in 2017 by the breast surgeon Martin Lee.
The law says that the Coroner must open an inquest into a death if there is reasonable cause to suspect that the death was due to anything other than natural causes.
The report believes that as many as 1,000 of Paterson’s private patients have died but the cause of death is unknown.
Figures provided by Cancer Research UK figures show that female patients aged between 50 and 60 have a 90 per cent chance of survival when facing breast cancer.
However, the survival rates were less than 56 per cent for Paterson’s patients.
One of Paterson’s victims, Marie Pinfield, wanted a double mastectomy to remove all her breast tissue.
However, only two years later in 2008, Ms Pinfield passed away after cancer spread to her lungs.
An inquiry found he carried out unnecessary operations in NHS and private hospitals on more than 1,000 patients over 14 years
Her sister, Shirley Moroney, recalls feeling a sense of dread before Marie was due to have surgery and advised her to put her wishes in writing.
Following a report into Ms Pinfield’s case by the consultant surgeon Professor Nigel Bundred, it was found that she had been misled by Paterson before her first operation for no good reason.
Compensation was awarded to Ms Moroney and the families of those who had suffered from negligent care.
Now, following the opened inquests, including that of Ms Pinfield’s, families are being told to expect more and will have the opportunity to tell their stories.
Ms Moroney hopes to be able to give her evidence in a public inquest but has forgiven Paterson.
She said: ‘I think as human beings, there’s no point in harbouring evil thoughts about somebody. An awful lot of other people haven’t had their day in court. I hope the inquests give them that.’
A number of the women agreed to the mastectomies on the basis that it would allow them to keep some of their breasts, however, Paterson began giving cleavage-sparing mastectomies without their knowledge.
Victim Diane Green speaks outside Nottingham Crown Court following Ian Paterson’s sentencing in 2017
During a seven-week trial in 2017, the jury heard that the father-of-three carried out ‘extensive, life-changing operations for no medically justifiable reason’ on ten patients between 1997 and 2011.
He altered medical records to justify the most lucrative surgery.
Judge Jeremy Baker concluded that he was driven by ‘self-aggrandisement and the material rewards which it brought from your private practice’.
In a statement, Patricia Welch, 64, from Walsall, West Midlands, revealed she had a lump removed from her breast by Ian Paterson in 2001 when she was 48.
In her victim impact statement, she said: ‘Before being told [the operations] were unnecessary, when I looked at myself in the mirror I saw someone that had avoided cancer by having a mastectomy.
‘Now and probably for the rest of my life, I see a victim of Ian Paterson, who took away part of me as a woman.’
While GP Rosemary Platt, 67, from Sutton Coldfield, West Midlands, was referred to Paterson after finding a lump in her right breast in 1997. The surgeon then carried out a series of unnecessary procedures, including a mastectomy.
In her victim impact statement read out in court, Dr Platt said the long-term effects of his actions were ‘painful, mutilating scars’ and he had shaken her trust in fellow medical professionals.
Victim Judith Conduit (second from left) arriving with other victims at Nottingham Crown Court where Ian Paterson was sentenced
Spire Healthcare, announced in a statement this week that it was cooperating with the coroner’s investigation.
The initial review of its patients focused on the patients that survived, however, teams are now going back over the notes of patients who have since died.
At least 1,000 private patients have brought negligence claims against Paterson.
Spire Healthcare recently identified an additional 1,500 patients who could yet bring claims and there were also at least 200 claims by NHS patients.
In total, the damage has cost Spire £50 million in compensation while the NHS has paid more than £10 million.
Dr Cathy Cale, its medical director, told The Times: ‘Spire has changed radically since 2011. We have worked tirelessly to overhaul our culture, consultant management and standards to ensure that safety and quality sit at the heart of everything we do.’
‘We are very sorry for the significant distress and harm suffered by patients who were treated by Ian Paterson. Although we cannot put right the wrongs of the past, we are determined to do everything we can to support his victims.’
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