Government Launches Independent National Inquiry Into Convicted Surgeon Ian Paterson

An independent non-statutory inquiry will examine the circumstances and practices surrounding the malpractice of breast surgeon Ian Paterson

Department of Health

Department of Health

The inquiry will look at lessons that can be learned from the case, and how these can improve care by the independent healthcare sector across the country. It will be chaired by the Right Reverend Graham James, Bishop of Norwich.

Paterson was a consultant breast surgeon employed by the Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust (HEFT) and had practising privileges in the independent sector at Spire Parkway and Spire Little Aston.

He was found guilty in April this year of 17 counts of wounding patients with intent. He was sentenced to jail for 20 years.

The scope of the investigation has been widened to include the independent sector, including any further action needed to strengthen CQC’s inspection regime.

Philip Dunne, Health Minister, said:

Ian Paterson’s malpractice sent shockwaves across the health system due to the seriousness and extent of his crimes, and I am determined to make sure lessons are learnt from this so that it never happens again in the independent sector or the NHS.

I believe an independent, non-statutory inquiry, overseen by Bishop Graham James, is the right way forward to ensure that all aspects of this case are brought to light and lessons learned so we can better protect patients in the future.

The inquiry will also draw on issues raised in previous reviews about Ian Paterson’s conduct, particularly Sir Ian Kennedy’s review on behalf of HEFTand Verita’s investigation into the governance arrangements at two Spire Healthcare hospitals.

The Right Revd Graham James, Lord Bishop of Norwich, said:

The actions of Ian Paterson and the grievous harm he inflicted on patients are deeply concerning, and they have given rise to some serious questions which remain unanswered.

It is vital that the inquiry be informed by the concerns of former patients of Ian Paterson and their representatives. The interests of all patients, whether they seek treatment in the NHS or the private sector, should be at the heart of this inquiry and I will do my very best in the interest of those affected and the public.

The inquiry will be informed by the victims of Paterson and their families, and is likely to consider:

  • the responsibility for the quality of care in the independent sector
  • appraisal and ensuring validation of staff in the independent sector
  • the safety of multi-disciplinary working
  • information sharing, reporting of activity and raising concerns between the independent sector and the NHS
  • the role of insurers of independent sector healthcare providers (including how data it holds about the scope and volume of work carried out by doctors is shared with the sector)
  • arrangements for medical indemnity cover for clinicians in the independent sector

The Inquiry will be formally established from January 2018 and is expected to report in summer 2019. The terms of reference and other arrangements relating to how the Inquiry will be conducted – including the exact scope it will cover and how it will work within the system – will be announced at a future date.