Health Secretary vows improvements after inquiry into rogue surgeon Paterson

The Health Secretary has vowed to introduce improvements in the wake of a damning independent inquiry into how rogue breast surgeon Ian Paterson was able to go on performing unnecessary operations for years.

Matt Hancock said on Wednesday that the Government would introduce the necessary changes within a year after the Paterson Inquiry published 15 recommendations and uncovered a “dysfunctional” healthcare system that failed patients.

The report urged the NHS trust that employed Paterson and private health firm Spire Healthcare to check that all of more than 11,000 patients he treated had been recalled.

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Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the Government would look at all the recommendations of the Paterson Inquiry (Kirsty O’Connor/PA)

And it said the Government should introduce reforms, including regulation of insurance protection for patients as a “nationwide safety net”.

Recommendations also included the creation of an “accessible and intelligible” single repository of consultants’ key performance data.

Mr Hancock told BBC Breakfast: “There’s a whole series of recommendations but the central one is about information-sharing because the authorities that inspect different parts of the health system, the information wasn’t being shared properly.

“That absolutely can be fixed, it will be fixed.

“We will look at all the recommendations that the report made and make sure we do what’s necessary.

“There’s a whole series, they will change at different paces, but I think it’s reasonable to commit to giving an update, certainly in a year’s time, that we should have made all the changes that we think are necessary from the report.”

The inquiry, launched in May 2018, was published on Tuesday after hearing 177 first-hand accounts from the surgeon’s former patients.

Inquiry chairman the Rt Rev Graham James said patients were “let down over many years” by the NHS and independent providers, and criticised “a culture of avoidance and denial”.

Ian Paterson inquiry
Paterson Inquiry chairman the Rt Rev Graham James criticised ‘missed opportunities’ to stop the rogue surgeon (Jacob King/PA)

The retired bishop criticised “missed opportunities” to stop Paterson and said the failure to suspend him in 2003 when an NHS colleague first raised concerns as “inexplicable”.

It was not until eight years later that the disgraced surgeon was suspended.

The inquiry referred a health professional to West Midlands Police and five others to the General Medical Council or Nursing and Midwifery Council.

Paterson carried out unnecessary operations in NHS and private hospitals, exaggerating or inventing cancer risks and claiming payments for more expensive procedures.

He was employed by Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust (HEFT) but had practising privileges in the independent sector at Spire Parkway and Spire Little Aston in Birmingham.

Paterson is serving a 20-year jail sentence after being found guilty of 17 counts of wounding patients with intent against 10 victims.

In September 2017, more than 750 patients treated by Paterson received compensation payouts from a £37 million fund.

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