In response to the latest government announcement regarding the Ian Paterson inquiry, Linda Millband, national practice lead for clinical negligence at Thompsons Solicitors, said:

“The government has accepted many of the inquiry recommendations - that is to be welcomed - however despite lots of warm words this will provide scant consolation to the countless families whose lives were torn apart by Ian Paterson if there isn’t real and substantial change.

“A murderer with letters after his name was let loose on unsuspecting and uniquely vulnerable patients. For all the government says they want to ensure that any private patient’s care ‘meets the highest standard’, if you delve a little deeper, there’s nothing to suggest substantial change.

“Improving multidisciplinary teams is all well and good but when they are few and far between in the private healthcare sector – something that the victims of other ‘rogue’ surgeons such as Michael Walsh and Habib Rahman know all too well - then it doesn’t carry much weight.

“Producing ‘independent information’ for patients using the private health sector and a system of monitoring the independent sector sound great in theory but there remains little detail on how these will work in practice or how progress will be measured.

“It is hugely cynical of the political party that introduced changes that privatised and fragmented the NHS to now use this complexity as an excuse as to why they can’t demand real change. The bottom line is that private healthcare is driven by profit not public service - something Paterson greedily took advantage of, enriching himself at the expense of his patients.

“The government bats away using ‘contractual levers’ for ‘directly driving patient safety improvement via contractual terms’ with the private healthcare sector and says that they should only be used to support regulation and guidance. Yet the regulation and guidance promised comes with no benchmarks and no independent review of progress.

“We are told that driving patient safety improvements will be ‘incredibly difficult for the NHS to monitor and could have serious repercussions by impacting the independent sector’s contribution to supporting the NHS with the recovery from Covid-19’. This isn’t a response of a government willing to do what it takes to bring about change, rather it reflects ideological opposition to challenging a free market, especially one in which members of the Conservative party have vested interests. It is an excuse for more of the same and it will be the patients who will once again pay the price.”