A breast surgeon accused of carrying out “unnecessary” operations on patients for financial gain has told court a mastectomy on a female GP “was carried out to prevent cancer, not to treat it”. 

Ian Paterson, 59, denies 20 counts of wounding with intent, linked to procedures he carried out on nine women and one man between 1997 and 2011. 

In previous evidence, Nottingham Crown Court heard the GP was under the impression she already had cancer and she was “anxious” about her health. She told the court she “left her GP hat at the door”, putting her trust in the consultant after finding growths in her right breast. She had another operation on her left breast four months later, which the prosecution alleges was unlawful. 

But the surgeon, who was employed by Heart of England NHS Trust and also practised at Spire Healthcare, said he was aware the GP had “a cancer phobia” from a psychiatrist’s report and the “way to protect herself” was “she would do everything she could to maximise her protection”. 

He said, because of her fears, he was willing to “over-treat” her as though her health concerns were “at the black end of the spectrum”. He has denied previous allegations by the prosecution that there was no evidence of abnormal cells in the GP’s milk glands.   

“If I had been desperate to play on this lady’s anxiety, I’m sure I could have persuaded her to have another operation but I did not,” he told the court. 

Mr Paterson also described allegations he exaggerated or made up cancer risks, and sometimes claimed payments for more expensive procedures, as “abhorrent”. 

His police statement in January 2013 was read to the jury by prosecutor Nicholas Barraclough. 

It said: “He has never pressured any patient to undergo surgery. He gave patients time to make their decision. All surgical procedures taken by him were appropriate and necessary and he denies any allegations of unnecessary surgery or bad faith.” 

The trial continues. 

Thompsons Solicitors is representing many of Paterson’s patients in civil cases.