ITV News Central Presenter Pablo Taylor reports on the ITV Exposure documentary on the surgeon who 'played God' with people's bodies and cut them open for no reason
Words by ITV News Central Digital Content Editor Kavita Patel
Bodies of Evidence: The Butcher Surgeon uncovers the shocking story of Ian Paterson and his victims.
Paterson, who was based in Birmingham, is currently serving a 20-year sentence for his crimes, after carrying out needless operations over a 14-year period.
While working as a breast surgeon consultant, he was diagnosing cancer when there wasn't any and cutting patients open for no reason.
He was found guilty in 2017 of 17 counts of wounding with intent and three counts of unlawful wounding.
Five years on, this film from the ITV Exposure strand talks to victims, fellow doctors and a key whistleblower to tell the extraordinary story of how the system allowed Paterson to perform unnecessary and damaging surgery on so many for so long.
'This is probably one of the biggest medical scandals ever'
David Rowland, director of the Centre for Health and Public Interest, said: "There have been thousands and thousands of patients affected but also their family members as well.
"This is probably one of the biggest medical scandals ever to have hit this country."
In this documentary for ITV's Bafta-winning Exposure, his victims detail their scarily similar experiences with the consultant and the impact his fear mongering and surgery left on them.
John Ingram was told in May 2006 a tissue sample from a lump in his breast showed signs of "pre-cancer".
He was the only man alleged to be among the surgeon's victims.
And in 2017, he told Nottingham Crown Court that at the time he was still taking medication to treat the pain - which he described as "having a cigarette held" against his nipple.
Mr Ingram, who had a phobia of surgery, underwent an unnecessary double mastectomy after being told he was "on the road to developing breast cancer".
He told ITV: "What he said was the best thing in my interests would be to have the double mastectomy and that was, that was some news."
Disgraced surgeon 'created a cycle of fear'
Debbie Douglas, who is from Birmingham, underwent a mastectomy but later learned that her cancer was not serious enough to warrant the operation.
She said her body now bears all the scars of her contact with Paterson.
Speaking to ITV, she said: "He removed all my lymph nodes, I'm cut from hip to hip, cut from under my armpit.
"I've got scars around my breast for a less than 2cm lump that wasn't a serious cancer without any spread.
"Obviously that's had a devastating effect on my family."
Ms Douglas said the surgeon was responsible for making you feel anxious and terrified.
She said: "What he did was, he got you into this cycle of fear where you go through a check-up, you had more check-ups than usual and then that cycle of fear, for example on one occasion, after a pet scan that I had a lump of dubious suspicion on my right lung.
"And I started to well-up and he said well that's not serious, it's not an issue."
She adds: "I really want to know, how did he get away with it? How was he allowed to work for 20 years harming people?"
Another patient, Nicky Craig, echoed the comments from Debbie, saying: "He put the fear into me for the entire time that I had to keep going back to have the examinations."
Whistleblower tells ITV how he exposed Ian Paterson
For the first time, a key whistleblower speaks exclusively to ITV Exposure. Hemant Ingle details the steps he took to expose Paterson and these extraordinary crimes.
Mr Ingle worked as an NHS junior consultant at Solihull Hospital in 2007 and later alongside Paterson in the private sector at Spire.
Speaking to ITV about how he exposed Paterson, Mr Ingle said: "And eventually when I presented everything, the final thing, to the chief executive, you can imagine my shock, the first thing the chief executive asked me is 'have I got any skeletons in my closet before I submit this letter'."
Mr Ingle was crucial in the reporting and investigation of Paterson and did not stop until he was brought to justice.
'He was like God to me', one survivor says
One of his victims, Carole Johnson, was unnecessarily operated on by Paterson seven times.
She said: "He’d stopped me from getting cancer. He was like God to me."
Some of Paterson's patients may have died 'unnaturally'
With the investigation into Paterson still on-going, the documentary notes fresh evidence has emerged that some of Paterson’s patients may have died an unnatural death as a result of his actions.
University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust which now runs Solihull Hospital, said: "The Trust wholly condemns Paterson’s actions between 1993 and 2011 and the actions, inaction, culture, and poor governance surrounding decisions made by Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust, who we merged with in 2018, during that time.
"Too many patients received horrendous treatment at the hands of Paterson, and we continue to do our utmost to support them."
Spire Healthcare said: "We apologise for the significant distress and harm suffered by patients who were treated by Ian Paterson in our hospitals. Spire has changed radically since 2011.
"Our culture, management and standards have been overhauled, with safety and quality sitting at the heart of everything we do.
"Systems are in place to recruit, oversee and audit consultants and identify any whose practice could give rise to concern and we are able to take action quickly."
BODIES OF EVIDENCE: THE BUTCHER SURGEON airs at 10.20pm on ITV on Sunday June 12th