1. ITV Report

Health Secretary plans inquiry into breast surgeon who performed hundreds of 'completely unnecessary' operations

Ian Paterson was found guilty of 17 counts of wounding with intent and three counts of unlawful wounding. Credit: PA

An inquiry is to be held into a breast surgeon who was found guilty of carrying out hundreds of "completely unnecessary" operations, the Health Secretary has said.

Ian Paterson was found guilty in April by a jury of 17 counts of wounding with intent and three counts of unlawful wounding, but was granted conditional bail ahead of being sentenced "in due course."

The 59-year-old from Altrincham, Greater Manchester - who was described by one victim as being "like God" - lied and exaggerated or invented the risk of cancer to patients to convince them to be operated on.

Paterson's motives were described as "obscure" and may have been driven by a desire to "earn extra money", the court was told, though he maintained the operations were necessary throughout the seven-week trial.

A statement from Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said that if the Conservative Government returned to power after the upcoming General Election, it would take a close look at Paterson's work to ensure lessons can be learnt.

"The conviction of Ian Paterson, and recent disclosures about the seriousness and extent of his malpractice, are profoundly shocking," Mr Hunt said.

"A highly qualified medical professional, with a duty of care for his patients, totally neglected that duty and instead performed unnecessary procedures on a huge number of women.

"As a result I have agreed that, if returned to government, we will hold a comprehensive and focused inquiry to ensure that any lessons are learnt in the interests of ensuring patients are protected in future.

"We will take any testimony from those affected, their families, and others who may wish to come forward."

Around 350 of Paterson's private patients are taking civil action against the surgeon and Spire Healthcare in the West Midlands, the firm which owns the treatment clinics he used.

Ian Paterson worked at two private hospitals in the West Midlands. Credit: ITV News

However, Linda Millband, the national lead lawyer of Thompsons Solicitors who are representing these clients, said the issue should not be used as "political football".

"We have long called for an investigation into Mr Paterson's practices but any inquiry, however welcome, shouldn't be used as a stick with which to beat the NHS," Ms Millband said.

"The Health Secretary has promised a comprehensive, private inquiry but we are in an election campaign and this very serious matter must not become a political football.

"The findings of any inquiry must be made public."

One of the victims of Scottish-born Paterson said she looked like a "car crash victim" after undergoing an unnecessary mastectomy, while another had a "significant deformity in her visible cleavage area" after a pair of needless operations on her left breast.

Another who suffered at his hands was Leanne Joseph, who agreed to have two "unnecessary operations" leaving her unable to breastfeed, but was told by Paterson it was "a small price to pay for her life".

A freedom of information request found the NHS paid out £18 million - of which £9.5 million was damages - following claims made by nearly 800 former patients of Ian Paterson.

In addition, 68 women underwent so-called cleavage-sparing mastectomies - in which part of the breast is left for cosmetic reasons - by Paterson on the NHS, but had gone on to develop a recurrence of breast cancer.