The Medical Defence Union (MDU) is trying to back out of its responsibility to compensate former patients of disgraced breast cancer surgeon Ian Paterson, according to medical negligence law firm Thompsons Solicitors. 

The MDU, which provides indemnity insurance for medical professionals, have said they are reviewing medical reports and deciding which procedures are covered by Paterson’s indemnity, and for which cases cover will be withdrawn.They have suggested that the insurance is null and void because of Paterson’s criminal activity whilst performing surgery.

"Spire Healthcare have repeatedly twisted and turned trying to wash its hands of responsibility for what a surgeon they offered to patients did to those patients on their premises and now the MDU is trying to wriggle out too. This is yet another layer of irresponsibility within the private healthcare sector."

Linda Millband
national lead lawyer for clinical negligence at Thompsons Solicitors

Thompsons Solicitors are acting for over 500 patients who were operated on privately at Spire Parkway and Spire Little Aston in the West Midlands by Paterson before he was sentenced to fifteen years imprisonment for wounding with intent in May. 

Linda Millband, national lead lawyer for clinical negligence at Thompsons Solicitors said: “Spire Healthcare have repeatedly twisted and turned trying to wash its hands of responsibility for what a surgeon they offered to patients did to those patients on their premises and now the MDU is trying to wriggle out too. This is yet another layer of irresponsibility within the private healthcare sector.” 

The NHS paid out compensation to those harmed by Paterson and has taken steps to address the failures which allowed him to practice while Spire Healthcare has refused to pay out. 

To address this systemic inequality, Thompsons Solicitors has set up a campaign called Patients Before Profits. 

“Having been through hell at the hands of Ian Paterson suffering both considerable pain and financial loss our clients aren’t interested in legal technicalities. The only explanation for Spire and the MDU choosing to prolong their misery is that they are putting their profits before responsibility to their patients,” continued Ms Millband. 

“The message this is sending to private patients is that if things go wrong the hospital will try to run a mile and the MDU will run with them. There is something very wrong with a system that says to the wronged private patient: ‘if you want to be compensated for what you have been through, don’t cooperate with a criminal prosecution’. 

“If this stands, patients going for treatment privately can have no way of knowing whether they have legal protection if something goes wrong. We repeat our call for a public enquiry into the issue. All patients must be afforded equal standards of protection - wherever they are treated.”