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Inquiry into rouge breast surgeon to examine lessons in private healthcare

Ian Paterson Photo: PA

The Government has announced further plans for its independent inquiry into disgraced breast surgeon Ian Paterson, which will look at any broader lessons that can be learnt about private healthcare.

The inquiry will be chaired by the Right Reverend Graham James, Bishop of Norwich.

It will examine the circumstances and practices surrounding Paterson's malpractice and look at how this can improve care locally and the independent healthcare sector across the country to ensure private patients have the safeguards they expect.

Paterson - a consultant breast surgeon who was employed by the Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust (HEFT) - intentionally wounded his patients by exaggerating or inventing cancer risks and claimed payments for more expensive procedures.

Paterson, who had practising privileges in the independent sector at both Spire Parkway and Spire Little Aston in Birmingham, was found guilty of 17 counts of wounding patients with intent in April and jailed for 20 years.<

The details released on Thursday follow a pledge by Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt to hold a 'comprehensive and focused inquiry' into Paterson's wrongdoing.

Following this, and Health Minister Philip Dunne's meeting with victims and their families, the initial scope of the investigation has been widened in recognition of their feedback that broader issues about care in the independent sector needed attention.

This includes whether any further action is needed to strengthen the Care Quality Commission's (CQC) inspection regime in relation to the private sector.

Mr Dunne said:

Ian Paterson's malpractice sent shockwaves across the health system due to the seriousness and extent of his crimes, and I am determined to make sure lessons are learnt from this so that it never happens again in the independent sector or the NHS.

I believe an independent, non-statutory inquiry, overseen by Bishop Graham James, is the right way forward to ensure that all aspects of this case are brought to light and lessons learned so we can better protect patients in the future.

– Health Minister Philip Dunne

The Right Revd James said:

The actions of Ian Paterson and the grievous harm he inflicted on patients are deeply concerning, and they have given rise to some serious questions which remain unanswered.

It is vital that the inquiry be informed by the concerns of former patients of Ian Paterson and their representatives.

The interests of all patients, whether they seek treatment in the NHS or the private sector, should be at the heart of this Inquiry and I will do my very best in the interest of those affected and the public.

– Right Reverend Graham James