An NHS helpline has been set up for patients concerned about procedures conducted by Ian Paterson, a breast cancer surgeon. Paterson is now facing separate investigations by the police and the General Medical Council.
According to the Press Association, lawyers acting for almost 100 women are claiming that the surgeon, who worked in the West Midlands, carried out ‘unnecessary, inappropriate or unregulated’ operations in NHS and private hospitals.
Ian Paterson mainly worked at Solihull Hospital after being taken on by the Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust in 1998. In a statement, a trust spokesman said it was alerted to concerns in 2007 and had instigated a detailed review of breast surgery services provided through Solihull Hospital.
‘This review… identified that a surgical technique for mastectomies used by one of its consultants, Mr Ian Paterson, required closer scrutiny to establish whether it represented best practice,’ a spokesman said. ‘An external review highlighted that this was not a usual procedure and that Mr Paterson had not followed guidelines to introduce a new technique. This trust’s position, after careful consideration, was that the technique was not an approach considered appropriate going forward, and the method was therefore stopped.’
The surgeon was suspended by the GMC last month and excluded from the trust in 2011. The process of recalling more than 550 patients was completed by March this year.
Barbara Lewis thought she had beaten breast cancer as a result of a mastectomy Paterson undertook in 2003 using his ‘cleavage-sparing’ technique. This procedure leaves some of the breast tissue intact for cosmetic reasons. She did not ask for any breast tissue to be left and earlier this year was diagnosed with terminal cancer.
She told the Daily Telegraph that the tumours were secondary breast cancer, possibly caused by malignant tissue which was left rather than being removed during surgery at Solihull Hospital.
‘They did X-rays and they found tumours. They were everywhere,’ Barbara told the paper. She has been given perhaps two years to live. ‘It was a shock,’ she said; adding that she felt ‘absolutely angry’.
The Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust advice line can be contacted on 0121 424 5473 between 9am and midday, Monday to Friday.