THE FINDINGS of an independent inquiry into convicted breast surgeon Ian Paterson have been delayed due to the general election.
The investigation’s report into Paterson’s malpractice was expected by the end of this year, but will now be published in the new year.
Paterson was found guilty of multiple counts of wounding with intent on April 28, 2017 at Nottingham Crown Court and was jailed for 20 years.
Paterson, whose victims run into the hundreds, worked at hospitals run by the then Heart of England NHS Trust and also practised privately at Bupa hospitals in Solihull and Sutton Coldfield, latterly run by Spire Healthcare.
This isn’t the first time the report has been delayed.
The initial report was due in the summer but because of the sheer number of victims who came forward to speak out it was delayed.
The independent inquiry was launched two years ago and is chaired by the Right Reverend Graham James, Bishop of Norwich, following a pledge by the former health secretary Jeremy Hunt.
Although the inquiry is independent of Parliament, it commissioned a team to carry it out. The team will need to report its findings to Parliament as the results could affect national practises.
Sarah Jane Downing, the founder of the support group for Paterson’s private patients, said: “When you consider that the first of my survivors reported what Paterson had done to them in 2012 we have been living with this for a horrifically long time and to have to wait longer still is disappointing and difficult.
“That aside, the most important thing is for the report to be given the full and undivided attention of Parliament so that its recommendations can be acted upon swiftly and robustly in what we hope will be the first move towards making sure that the horrific abuse we have endured can never happen again.”
Linda Millband of Thompsons Solicitors, who represented 620 patients in claims against the surgeon, said: “A general election doesn’t wipe out the need for private healthcare providers to improve their safety record, or prevent other doctors from engaging in similar behaviour to Mr Paterson.
“The risk to patient safety of waiting to establish – and act on – the root cause of the Paterson scandal cannot be underestimated.
“It must not become a political football to be kicked into the long grass.
“The Inquiry has said that it was, but for the election, ‘on track’.
“Our clients have been more than patient and they deserve both answers, and closure. This report should be published without further delay. Today, we are writing to the Chair of the Inquiry to ask for a firm date for that to happen.”
Kashmir Uppal, of Access Legal – a lawyer who for years has represented Paterson’s clients in seeking justice – said: “It is disappointing, but we assume that the findings of the clearly extensive Inquiry, which has taken longer than originally anticipated due to the number of victims who have come forward to give evidence, will include the need for legislative changes, hence the delay in the report being released.
“There is clearly a loophole in the current regulatory network which allows private hospitals to absolve themselves of all responsibility and liability for the actions of a private doctor treating patients in their hospitals.
“A change in the law is required to give private patients better protection and this will in turn result in more effective clinical governance, which will go some way to preventing further cases where ‘rogue’ doctors, such as Mr Paterson, ruin the lives of innocent and vulnerable people.”