Around 750 private patients treated by disgraced breast surgeon Ian Paterson will receive compensation from a new £37 million fund.
Spire Healthcare has agreed to pay £27.2 million into the fund just weeks before it was due to be involved in a civil case involving around 750 patients.
Around £10 million will be provided by co-defendants in the case including Paterson’s insurers.
Paterson, of Altrincham, Greater Manchester, was jailed for 15 years for carrying out needless operations on patients, leaving them scarred and disfigured.
His sentence was increased last month by the Court of Appeal to 20 years after justices ruled the initial jail term imposed in May was ‘unduly lenient’.
Spire Healthcare run private hospitals across the UK, including two in the West Midlands where Paterson worked and carried out the botched procedures between 1993 and 2012.
Spire Healthcare has agreed to pay £27.2 million into a compensation fund for victims of rogue breast surgeon Ian Paterson, pictured left before his trial and right at court
Paterson, 59, was convicted by a jury of offences of wounding with intent and unlawful wounding against 10 patients.
Emma Doughty, a specialist medical negligence lawyer from Slater and Gordon, which represents more than 100 of Paterson’s victims, said: ‘No financial settlement will ever heal the physical and mental scars inflicted on our clients but they are relieved that they have finally won their battle for justice.
‘Even when Paterson was charged and then convicted earlier this year, Spire refused to countenance that they were responsible for his actions, despite his crimes taking place in their hospitals.
‘As a result, his victims have faced a long wait not knowing whether they would be compensated for the pain he caused them.
‘We are pleased that Spire has finally agreed to settle these cases and importantly, we hope this settlement will send a message to other private healthcare providers that patient safety must be their priority.
‘It is now crucial that all of the weaknesses in the private sector management, which allowed Paterson to do what he did for so long, are addressed and overhauled to reassure the public that something like this can never happen again.’
Thompsons Solicitors has been representing more than 500 of Paterson’s patients, more than any other law firm, and has been working on the case for over five years.
Many of their clients were operated on privately at Spire Parkway Hospital and Spire Little Aston Hospital in the West Midlands by Paterson.
Linda Millband, national lead lawyer for clinical negligence at Thompsons Solicitors said: ‘We can confirm that a settlement has been reached but it needs to be approved by a Court. We will share more details once the Court has approved the order.’
Irwin Mitchell represented more than 30 of his patients affected by Paterson’s treatments.
A spokesman said: ‘This fund will provide for Mr Paterson’s victims who will have to live with what happened to them forever.
‘The settlement will go towards the long term costs of therapy and ongoing treatment to help them try to move forward with their lives.
‘However there are still questions regarding the redress that private healthcare patients have if they are the victims of negligent medical treatment.
‘While Spire in this case has set aside a significant sum, it is likely to be less than the amount that the patients affected need.
‘There are also medical negligence victims who have found that indemnity insurance does not cover their private doctor when things have gone wrong.
‘This is still a grey area and many people wrongly believe they will be better protected under private care than under the NHS.
‘The issue of how much responsibility private hospitals have for the misdeeds of medical practitioners who use their facilities is not yet determined and we are pleased therefore on behalf of our clients that Spire has today accepted that “better” clinical governance might have led to “action being taken sooner”. But that is little comfort for Mr Paterson’s victims.’
Spire Healthcare previously told Paterson’s devastated victims it was not responsible for the botched breast operations the ‘evil’ consultant.
Seven years of missed chances stop surgeon and his life-changing ops
An investigation by senior lawyer Sir Ian Kennedy found a series of failings by the NHS trust involved
1981 – Paterson qualifies and starts treating patients in Bristol.
1993 – Paterson starts working at Spire’s Little Aston Hospital private hospital.
1997 – Carried out first ‘unnecessary’ procedure referred to in the trial, on his first victim, GP Rosemary Platt.
1998 – Appointed surgeon by Heart of England NHS trust in the West Midlands after investigation by former employer, Good Hope Hospital in Sutton Coldfield. In the same year he began carrying out work for Spire Parkway private hospital. It was also in this year that he carried out an ‘unnecessary’ incision on victim Marian Moran.
2001 – Carried out operations on victims Judith Conduit and Patricia Welch.
2002 – Paterson operated on victim Carole Johnson.
2003 – Concerns first raised about his methods by staff at Heart of England NHS trust, leading to a report to bosses the following January.
2004 – Recommendations about Mr Paterson’s work were not acted upon by NHS bosses.
2006 – Complaints first made to the General Medical Council. In the same year, Paterson carries out ‘unnecessary’ operations on victims John Ingram and Leanne Joseph, who is left unable to breastfeed.
2007 – A new surgeon is appointed who raises fresh concerns about Paterson. Some conditions are imposed on Paterson’s practice but he ‘did not observe them’, a report later found. Also in 2007, the NHS informed Spire private hospital of its investigation into Paterson, but few people at the private healthcare organisation were informed.
2008 – Victim Frances Perks is operated on.
2009 – A recall of some of Paterson’s NHS patients begins. One of his private patients raised concerns to Spire, but he was ‘given the benefit of the doubt’ by bosses. In the same year, victim Joanne Lowson was operated on.
2010 – The media begin to report the scandal, prompting concerns to become more widely known among NHS chiefs.
2011 – Despite the scandal now developing, victim Rachel Butler is operated on. Paterson is later suspended by the NHS trust and, in August, finally suspended by Spire. The General Medical Council (GMC) then imposed restrictions on his practice.
2012 – He is suspended by the GMC. In November, his NHS pay is finally stopped.
2013 – A report by Professor Sir Ian Kennedy slams ‘weak and indecisive leadership’ and ‘secrecy and containment’ at the NHS trust. Paterson is first interviewed by police.
2014 – A report into the private hospitals handling of Paterson finds a ‘collective failure to manage him’ and ‘long periods of no communication’ with the NHS trust.
2016 – Paterson is charged with maliciously wounding patients.
2017 – He is jailed for 15 years and will be eligible for automatic parole after seven and a half
But today Simon Gordon, Interim Chief Executive Officer, said in a statement: ‘Earlier this year a criminal court decided that Ian Paterson must bear responsibility for his actions, finding him guilty of assaulting a number of his patients.
‘He behaved with clear criminal intent and abused the trust of those who looked to him for his care and relied upon his expertise.
‘However, whilst nothing diminishes Mr Paterson’s responsibility for his actions, these events took place in our hospitals, and this should not have happened.
‘We accept that better clinical governance in the private hospitals where Mr Paterson practised, as well as in his NHS Trust, might have led to action being taken sooner, and it is right that we have made a material contribution to the settlement announced today.
‘We have apologised unreservedly to Mr Paterson’s patients for their suffering and distress and we would like to repeat that apology.
‘As soon as the criminal trial ended we were able to start liaising with claimants’ lawyers to broker a settlement involving all defendants. This has resulted in the agreement announced today.’
Spire also said it was ‘determined to learn the lessons from these events to ensure they can never happen again’.
The firm said it commissioned an independent report into Paterson’s actions at the trust and had introduced a new governance process with a committee set up to oversee safety and monitor consultant activity.
Hundreds of his NHS victims have already received around £18 million in compensation from the public purse.
His trial heard evidence from nine women and one man who were treated in the private sector at Little Aston and Parkway Hospitals in the West Midlands between 1997 and 2011.
Victims said Paterson’s crimes had left them in constant pain and struggling to trust medical professionals.
Paterson left hundreds of victims ‘scarred and disfigured’ following ‘needless operations’ and was jailed for 20 years. Pictured are some of his victims arriving at court for his trial in May
At the May court case Mr Justice Jeremy Baker told Paterson: ‘You deliberately played upon their worst fears, either by inventing or deliberately exaggerating the risk that they would develop cancer, and thereby gained their trust and confidence to consent to the surgical procedures which you carried out upon them.’
But Solicitor General Robert Buckland argued that Paterson’s offending was ‘so serious and so exceptional’ that a jail term ‘significantly higher’ than 15 years was required.
Mr Buckland said the surgeon’s crimes had ’caused a very high degree of physical and psychological harm’ to vulnerable patients.
Lady Justice Hallett said: ‘Both the harm and culpability here were exceptionally high.’
She said the court was satisfied that the sentence imposed was ‘unduly lenient’, and that a ‘just’ term was one of a total of 20 years for ‘multiple’ offences.
At the Court of Appeal hearing last month former patients Debbie Douglas and Tracey Smith wept and hugged as they heard the new at Ms Douglas’s home in Birmingham.
The new sentence means Paterson will not be eligible for parole until he has served half of the term, ten years, behind bars.
He will serve the rest of the sentence on licence.
The Medical Defence Union (MDU) refused to pay out compensation over Paterson’s procedures because a clause in the surgeon’s policy said he was not covered in the event of a criminal conviction.
The MDU – a mutual society – exists to help medics pay damages in the event of a claim for clinical negligence.