Disgraced breast cancer surgeon Ian Paterson has today (Wednesday 31 May 2017) been sentenced to 15 years in prison at Nottingham Crown Court, after being found guilty of multiple counts of wounding with intent.

“I have waited so long for this day - a day I sometimes thought would never come – and to know that he is locked up for what he did to us. But I will never have closure, what that man did will haunt me for the rest of my life.”

Frances Perks, medical negligence client

Campaigning law firm Thompsons Solicitors, joined by several former Paterson patients who are pursuing legal action against private healthcare provider Spire, launched a new campaign: Patients Before Profits, after sentencing.

Linda Millband, national lead lawyer for clinical negligence at Thompsons Solicitors said: “At last Ian Paterson has been brought to book for the horrendous crimes he committed against his patients, but the injustice continues as the case has highlighted a gaping loophole in the justice system. Private healthcare providers like Spire are trying to get away with shirking their responsibility when things go wrong.”

The firm is representing nearly 500 of Paterson’s former patients in a civil case against Spire, due to take place in October later this year.

While the NHS has paid out compensation to those harmed by Paterson and has taken steps to address the failures which allowed him to practice, Spire Healthcare has dragged its feet, avoided taking responsibility and refused to pay out in equivalent cases arising from treatment by Paterson at their hospitals in the West Midlands, according to the firm.

“It really is astonishing that private healthcare providers consider themselves above the law and above the standards followed by the NHS. They should be subject to the same levels of transparency, safety and accountability as the NHS but instead private healthcare companies are seeking to take advantage of loopholes around liability. They are profiting from mistakes made on their watch,” continued Ms Millband.

“With heavy promotion of private healthcare to individuals and with the NHS going through increasing privatisation, it is deeply troubling that private providers can take money from people individually or from their taxes through government contracts, have people harmed on their premises and then walk away from those mistakes. We are working with a cohort of experts to undertake a review of the current legal obligations governing private healthcare providers and will publish that later this year.”

"Private healthcare providers should not be allowed to profit from mistakes; they must be subject to the same levels of transparency, safety and accountability as the NHS and not take advantage of current loopholes around liability."

Linda Millband
national lead lawyer for clinical negligence at Thompsons Solicitors

Frances Perks, one of the witnesses who gave evidence at the criminal trial and a former Paterson patient said: “I have waited so long for this day - a day I sometimes thought would never come – to know that he is locked up for what he did to us. But I will never have closure, what that man did will haunt me for the rest of my life.

“Spire need to face up to the fact that they played a major part in allowing this misery to continue and Paterson to harm so many people. The system should not allow private hospitals to just wash their hands of people like me. I’m supporting the Patients Before Profits campaign because I don’t want anyone to go through this hell ever again.”