“Dysfunctional At Almost Every Level” – Major Failings Identified In NHS & Private Healthcare

An independent inquiry report published this month shows the Ian Paterson scandal goes far beyond the story of a rogue surgeon.

“It is the story of a healthcare system which proved itself dysfunctional at almost every level when it came to keeping patients safe, and where those who were the victims of Paterson’s malpractice were let down time and time again.” Rt Graham James.

The inquiry chaired by Bishop Graham James makes it clear concerns raised by healthcare professionals in the NHS were missed on many occasions and that there was a “culture of avoidance and denial” within both the NHS and private sector which allowed Ian Paterson to “hide in plain sight”.

The private and public health systems did not compare notes about suspicious behaviour by the consultant. This exposes that a major oversight exists when doctors work across the NHS and private sector which poses as a great risk to patients.

Ian Paterson

Ian Paterson primarily carried out breast surgery but also conducted other general surgeries. He mutilated hundreds of people through painful, life-changing procedures. Paterson is currently serving a 20-year jail term for 17 counts of wounding with intent which was handed down to him following a trial in 2017.

He worked with cancer patients, both male and female at NHS and Private Hospitals in Solihull over a span of 14 years, during which time it is estimated that he treated over 11,000 patients.

Ian Paterson told patients they had breast cancer and performed mastectomies when in reality they didn’t have the disease at all. Other patients who did have cancer were left at a risk of developing the disease again after Paterson invented an unofficial tissue sparing procedure that left breast tissue behind. It is reported that around 1,200 NHS patients went under Paterson’s knife for mastectomies and around 675 of them have now died.

From the report five health professionals have been reported to either the General Medical Council or the Nursing and Midwifery Council and referred one matter for investigation by the West Midlands Police.

750 women received a total compensation of more than £37 million in an out-of-Court settlement involving the NHS and Spire Healthcare.


It is clear that more needs to be done for patient safety and the report has recommended a single database for the whole practice of consultants that sets out their practising privileges and critical performance data, such as how often they have performed a particular procedure.

It has been reported the Private Healthcare Information Network has confirmed they will shortly be launching a consultation with NHS Digital to consider the first steps toward the creation of this single dataset.

How Nelsons can help

At Nelsons, our team of medical negligence solicitors in Derby, Leicester and Nottingham are specialists in claims for inadequate, wrong and unnecessary surgeries. We understand the devastating effects both physically and mentally that these actions have on people’s lives and we strive to do our best for you.

Please call 0800 024 1976 or complete our online enquiry form and we will contact you as soon as possible regarding your circumstances.