Hundreds of cancer survivors in the Birmingham area are being advised to seek legal assistance after they were given a controversial ‘cleavage sparing’ mastectomy.

Clinical Negligence expert Thompsons Solicitors is acting on behalf of breast cancer survivors who are at risk of their cancer returning after they were given the procedure by Ian Paterson at Solihull Hospital, Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust and the Spire Hospitals in Sutton Coldfield and Solihull.

A meeting of the NHS Litigation Authority has revealed 400 patients have been recalled for a medical review.

Linda Millband from Thompsons Solicitors clinical negligence team said hundreds of women in the area may need specialist legal help to assist them in bringing a claim against the hospital trusts.

She said: “We know there are hundreds of women who have received letters after being treated by Dr Paterson. Many of these women may need legal help to assist them in understanding the recourse available to them.

“Several women have already instructed us to investigate their claims for compensation and we are currently involved in litigation with the relevant hospitals. Most have needed further surgery”

Solihull Hospital surgeon Ian Paterson is being investigated by the General Medical Council (GMC).

Mr Patterson's technique of leaving a small amount of tissue around the cleavage was questioned by his colleagues, most of whom follow national guidelines to not leave excess tissue after surgery as it could increase the risk of the cancer returning.

Sonya Collins, 40, from Chelmsley Wood, Solihull sought advice from Thompsons after she underwent what she believed was a full mastectomy in 2003. She decided to have a full mastectomy on her other breast as a preventative measure a year later.

Both procedures were cleavage sparing and in her case the tissue which put her at risk of a recurrence of cancer was not all removed.

It was only when she contacted the hospital after reading newspaper reports and asked for a medical review that she was advised that the remaining tissue meant there was a 40 to 50% chance of the breast cancer reoccurring.

Mrs Collins, who has three sons aged 17, 15 and nine, said: “I was devastated by the news as I had undergone the second mastectomy to ensure I had done what I could to avoid the cancer returning. I was living with a ticking time bomb and had no idea.

“I should never have had to contact the hospital to find this out. As soon as they became aware that there were women who had been treated incorrectly they should have been straight in touch.”

She has since needed further surgery to remove the remaining tissue from both breasts.

Linda Millband added: “There will be women out there whose chance of cancer reoccurring is high because they were given inappropriate treatment by Mr Paterson. These women must seek a medical review urgently and consider contacting a solicitor to find out if they have a case for compensation.”