By: 6 March 2014

Private healthcare provider Spire has published a review into how it allowed a breast surgeon to continue to perform unnecessary operations on hundreds of patients since 1993.


Ian Paterson went unchallenged by Spire hospitals across the Midlands as he performed hundreds of unnecessary procedures on both men and women. Paterson was found to have performed cleavage sparing mastectomies on hundreds of women – an unrecognised surgical procedure which leaves patients at a greater risk of the cancer returning. He was also suspected of carrying out mastectomies on women who did not even have breast cancer.


The report, put together by Verita Consulting, said that between December 2007 and August 2011, Spire missed opportunities at its Parkway and Little Aston hospitals to have monitored Paterson’s work and taken subsequent action to deal with it. 

It also found that there was poor communication between the Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust (HEFT) and Spire about HEFT’s investigation into Paterson's practises within the NHS and that Spire needed to review its handling of complaints and concerns.


Spire Healthcare’s chief executive, Rob Roger, said that the group gave a "full and unreserved apology to all of the patients and their families" for any distress they had suffered due to having received treatment from Paterson. He also apologised to staff who had raised concerns about Paterson but had not been listened to.


“Verita’s independent report makes for difficult reading and we intend to learn from this incident," he said.


"The commissioning of the Report, our commitment to implementing all of its Recommendations and our decision to take further actions beyond the Report’s Recommendations, are all designed to try to ensure that this will not happen again in any Spire hospital," he added.


Clinical negligence specialist, Kashmir Uppal, from Thompsons solicitors, said that the report showed that Spire had "placed their business concerns to the fore and relegated patient safety and care to the sidelines".


“Spire says it takes policies which protect patient safety seriously, but the evidence says it failed time and time again to protect hundreds of people from becoming victims of Mr Paterson," said Uppal.


“From our perspective, this report discloses a catalogue of errors. The management at Spire had sufficient cause to step in and suspend Mr Paterson in 2009; instead, they allowed him to continue unchecked until August 2012.


“Spire failed to tackle Paterson’s persistent and deliberate flouting of its own compliance procedures and fell far short of established national guidelines leaving their bank of consultants – Paterson included – free to regulate themselves to devastating effect,” added Uppal.


A rundown on the report's findings and recommendations can be found here