Hundreds seeking compensation over ops by convicted breast surgeon

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Hundreds of private patients of a surgeon convicted of carrying out needless breast operations are seeking compensation over the "devastation" wreaked by his crimes. 

The NHS alone has paid out nearly £18 million after settling the cases of more than 250 patients treated by top surgeon Ian Paterson, 59, who was described in court by one victim as being "like God". 

On Friday he was convicted of 17 counts of wounding with intent and three counts of unlawful wounding against 10 patients, and one solicitor has said the rogue surgeon could have "hundreds, if not thousands" of other victims. 

Now it has been announced that around 350 patients who underwent treatment privately at clinics owned by Spire Healthcare in the West Midlands are taking civil action against him and the firm. 

Thompsons Solicitors, a firm representing the patients, said the company's treatment of those who complained was "shabby". 

"We are determined to secure appropriate compensation for every single one of our clients, some of whom found the courage to come forward only as recently as four weeks ago," said Linda Millband, lead national lawyer at the firm.

"Spire needs to face up to its responsibilities, because they let him operate well after he was suspended by the NHS." 

A Freedom of Information request by the Press Association revealed the NHS has resolved 256 cases, paying out £9.5 million in compensation and £8.2 million in costs, while a further 25 cases are still to be heard. 

The surgeon, who was suspended by the General Medical Council in 2012, lied to patients and exaggerated or invented the risk of cancer in order to convince them to go under the knife. 

Ms Millband said the "dangerous regulatory loophole" allowed Paterson to continue practising privately despite the ban. 

The firm said: "Thompsons argue that the devastation wreaked by Mr Paterson was compounded by the Spire Group's shabby treatment of their former patients when they came forward to complain. 

"In response the firm is launching an investigative campaign - Patients Before Profits - to explore how to close loopholes and drive private health providers to 'level up' to ensure private patients are guaranteed the same level and speed of response as those being treated on the NHS." 

One victim of Scottish-born Paterson looked like a "car crash victim" after undergoing an unnecessary mastectomy while another had a "significant deformity in her visible cleavage area" after a pair of needless operations on her left breast. 

The surgeon had maintained all the operations were necessary but a jury of six men and five women at Nottingham Crown Court agreed with the prosecution that Paterson carried out "extensive, life-changing operations for no medically justifiable reason". 

His trial heard harrowing evidence from 10 patients treated in the private sector between 1997 and 2011 at the Little Aston and Parkway hospitals in the West Midlands, with one victim telling jurors: "That person has ruined my life." 

Thomspons said it is "currently pursuing civil cases for around 350 patients who undertook treatment privately at Spire Parkway and Spire Little Aston". 

A Spire Healthcare spokesman said on Friday: "What Mr Paterson did in our hospitals, in other private hospitals and in the NHS, absolutely should not have happened and today justice has been done. 

"We would like to reiterate how truly sorry we are for the distress experienced by any patients affected by this case. 

"We can say unequivocally that we have learned the lessons from these events. 

"We commissioned a thorough independent investigation and have fully implemented all of the recommendations." 

Judge Jeremy Baker granted Paterson bail until his sentencing next month, and added his sentence was "likely to be a custodial one".