A further six inquests have been opened as part of an ongoing investigation into dozens of deaths linked to former consultant surgeon Ian Paterson.
In April 2017, Mr Paterson was criminally convicted of multiple counts of wounding with intent at Nottingham Crown Court after it was found that he had been carrying out unnecessary surgical procedures and operations on patients referred to him by the NHS, and private healthcare provider Spire.
These included invasive lumpectomies when biopsies would suffice, mastectomies on women who did not have breast cancer and cleavage sparing mastectomies, a procedure not recognised in clinical practice.
There have also been cases brought in relation to other types of surgeries carried out by Mr Paterson, including for hernias and varicose veins.
He is currently serving a 20-year sentence.
Dozens of inquests relating to treatment provided by Mr Paterson’s patients have now been opened and adjourned, with the coroner saying there is evidence to have reason to suspect that some of those deaths may be unnatural.
The final hearings are expected to start on October 7th, 2024.
Linda Millband, head of group claims at Thompsons Solicitors, has represented hundreds of patients to bring claims for compensation after they were treated by Mr Paterson, as well as six families who are involved in the Coroner’s investigation.
She said: “This is understandably a very difficult and emotional time for our clients, many of whom have waited years for a better understanding of the circumstances surrounding the deaths of their loved ones. The opening of these inquests brings those families one step closer to justice.
“Mr Paterson has already been jailed for his despicable actions. However, there are still countless unanswered questions with regards his conduct, as well as the actions of the various NHS Trusts and private clinics where he worked.”
Welcoming the Coroner's commitment to ensure that all the facts are 'fully, fairly and fearlessly investigated' in each case, Linda added: “The upcoming inquests will play a vital role in investigating the concerns raised by thousands of patients, and dozens of grieving families.
“It is our hope that the hearings scheduled to take place later this year will provide our clients with the answers they are desperately seeking, and bring about a sense of closure for those who have suffered so much already.”
Various funds have been set up to provide compensation to Mr Paterson’s victims, with claims potentially ranging from hundreds to six-figure sum This included £27.2 million paid out by Spire Healthcare and £10 million paid by Paterson's insurers and former employers at the Heart of the England NHS Trust.
While many cases – including 650 brought by Thompsons Solicitors - have now settled, the Independent Inquiry into Ian Paterson published in February 2020 found that the initial recall process didn’t reach out to all of his potential victims.
In December 2020, thousands of additional recall letters were sent to patients treated at Spire Parkway and Spire Little Aston.
In February 2023, Spire announced that upon reviewing historic legacy IT systems, a further 1,500 patients from more than 20 years ago were identified as having possibly received negligent treatment from Paterson.
Commenting on the recall Linda Millband from Thompsons Solicitors, said: “While thousands of patients have already come forward it’s apparent that there are many, many more people who were treated privately and are likely affected by the actions of Mr Paterson.
“It’s important that they also know that there is help out there, and that if they have suffered from physical or emotional distress caused as a result of unnecessary or inappropriate procedures, treatment, or surgery that they may be entitled to compensation.
“We would urge anyone who thinks they may have been treated by Mr Paterson to reach out to our expert legal team as soon as possible.”