Judith Eva and Cheryl Iommi both had operations they didn’t need
Two former patients of the jailed surgeon, Ian Paterson, are calling for change in the private health sector one year after the Independent Inquiry into his conduct made recommendations to ensure patient safety.
In April 2017, Ian Paterson was found guilty of multiple counts of wounding patients with intent at private hospitals in the West Midlands run by Spire Healthcare and is now serving a 20-year prison sentence.
Not only did Paterson carry out unnecessary procedures on women, falsely telling them they had cancer, he also put patients at risk of their cancer returning by using techniques that are widely rejected by medical regulators.
On 4 February 2020, an Independent Inquiry exposed widespread failings in the private health sector and made 15
recommendations to improve patient safety, including better monitoring of consultants.
But 12 months on, former Paterson victims Cheryl Iommi, from King’s Norton, and Judith Eva, from Knowle, have been left wondering when there is going to be any progress to implement the recommendations.
Cheryl Iommi, 54, had three lumpectomies performed by Paterson after he told her she was going to get cancer. When she went under the knife to have the lump in her right breast removed, she woke up from the operation to find Paterson had taken a chunk out of her left breast as well, claiming he’d found a second lump.
She said: “Every time I look in the mirror, I think of him. I already lacked confidence in how I looked and now I am left with this big indent along the side of my breast for no reason whatsoever. I can still hear his voice clear as day telling me I was going to get cancer.
“As it stands, until the government take action, there is no way of stopping anyone as criminally minded as Paterson from doing something like this again and exploiting the same loopholes. This should never be forgotten and, at the very least, there should be lessons learned from it, but it feels like the waiting for change, any change, is never ending.”
Judith Eva, 62, also had two lumpectomies after Paterson told her they were cancerous, only to find out 16 years later they were cysts.
She said: “I would like to think any mistakes or oversights leading to such trauma for so many people would lead to an immediate change in hospital practices and a new way of working
would be adopted as a priority. Yet we are still waiting for any sign that that change has happened.
“It makes me wonder if there are staff members still seeing wrongdoing but who are too afraid to report it? Or maybe they just think the surgeon knows best so don’t question it? I wouldn’t dream of going privately now until all of the recommendations have been implemented – you’re just far more at risk.”
Mrs Eva and Mrs Iommi were two of 650 patients represented by social justice law firm, Thompsons Solicitors, in the civil claim against Paterson, securing a package of £37 million pounds.
Linda Millband, partner and head of clinical negligence at Thompsons Solicitors, who ran the case against Paterson, said: “Paterson took advantage of a system that was open to abuse. He got away with so much for so long because of the UK’s private healthcare system’s inadequate audit process and failure to appraise surgeons at hospitals where they are contracted, rather than employed.
“The pandemic has led to enough heartache and death and cannot be used as an excuse to cause yet more through a failure to implement very clear recommendations now 12 months old. Without fundamental reforms, suggested by an Independent Inquiry, we face the very real prospect of history repeating itself.”
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