Ian Paterson - a 'likable' breast surgeon described as being "like a god" - has been convicted of multiple counts of wounding and wounding with intent.
The surgeon, who worked at Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust, Little Aston Spire and Solihull Spire Hospitals, has been found to have "systematically misinterpreted" test results, leading to multiple women undergoing 'unnecessary' operations.
The unnecessary procedures left victims permanently scarred, and his actions are entirely unforgivable.
Mr Paterson was convicted on 28th April 2017 of 17 counts of wounding with intent relating to 9 women and 1 man. He was also convicted of 3 counts of unlawful wounding of 10 private patients.
Although he was convicted of the unnecessary procedures for these patients between 1997 and 2011, there are fears there may be thousands of other cases yet to be discovered. Since the breast surgeon's conviction, over a hundred patients treated at the privately-run Spire Healthcare Hospitals have reportedly come forward for legal advice.
Paterson's denial leaves motives unclear
Paterson denied all counts, maintaining that all operations were necessary. However, the jurors agreed with the Prosecution that Mr Paterson carried out "extensive, life-changing operations for no medically justifiable reason".
As Mr Paterson denied all counts, his motives remain unclear. Some former patients claimed he exaggerated or invented the risk of cancer, and there is speculation he did so in efforts to improve his status as a successful surgeon.
In some extreme cases, former patients claimed payments for more expensive procedures than those he had carried out. The outcome of the hearing suggests this could've been to enhance his status as a reputable surgeon, but his motives may also have been financially driven too.
Paterson "ruined my life"
Following the 7-week trial at Nottingham Crown Court, one patient treated at Spire's Little Aston and Parkway Hospital told the jury that Paterson "ruined my life."
On another count, Mr Paterson performed a mastectomy on Marian Moran in 2004 at Parkway Hospital after she found what transpired to be non-threatening lumps on her left breast. Mrs Moran told the jury that she was told by Paterson that the lumps were pre-cancerous, but they only turned out to be "little warts".
It appears this was a scare tactic for Mrs Moran to undergo the operation as quickly as possible, and after the operation, her husband said "she looked like she had been involved in a car crash."
Breast surgery expert Professor Philip Drew reviewed Mrs Moran’s medical notes and was asked by the Prosecutor: "do these findings suggest an inevitable deterioration towards cancer?"
Professor Drew replied: "absolutely not".
Another women was left with "significant deformity in her visible cleavage area" after two unnecessary operations on her left breast, and all the evidence points to the fact that Mr Paterson advised women to undergo unnecessary surgery by fabricating the risks of cancer.
Tragically, a number of Mr Paterson's former patients have died since receiving treatment from him. Concerns were raised in the past about his practice of carrying out "cleavage-saving mastectomies", which left behind tissue despite this being against expert guidelines. The chances of relapse within 5 years are reportedly doubled when tissue is left behind, meaning the risk he put on patients is clear.
Although there isn't a confirmed connection, one of Mr Paterson's patients named as Michelle Flavelle died five years after her cancer spread to her liver, which was after she had been receiving treatment from him.
The NHS has been forced to pay out around £18 million in compensation to more than 250 patients who were victims of treatment provided by Mr Paterson. So far, around 256 cases have been settled, but there could be many more on the horizon.
The highest settlement to date has been £250,000.00. Some of Mr Paterson's patients may never receive compensation after one of his insurers, the Medical Defence Union, withdrew their "discretionary" cover. However, there's still hope as it's understood he had a limited separate insurance policy of £10 million. However, this may not cover the costs of all his patients.
It's concerning that Paterson was previously suspended from the Good Hope Hospital in Birmingham, but was still employed by the Heart of England NHS Trust despite the suspension. It's arguable the NHS Trust was negligent in employing him after they received notification of his suspension, given he was potentially putting patients at risk.
Chief Superintendent Mark Payne said:
"The procedures carried out by Ian Paterson on vulnerable patients were unnecessary and caused physical suffering, scars and wounds to the patients... as a result of his greed and arrogance, many of the patients have suffered psychologically, believing they needed to undergo the procedures because they were at risk from breast cancer."
A spokesperson at the Spire Hospital noted their support to compensate the affected individuals, saying:
"...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."
Many patients have taken up counselling services to receive appropriate psychological support through this traumatic and distressing time.
Reviews and further investigations needed
There are calls from the Royal College of Surgeons (RCS) to review safety standards in the private sector after Mr Paterson was still allowed to practice as a surgeon after a decade of concerns had been raised about him. Sarah Jane Downing set up a petition demanding compensation for all private victims. She was "shocked and appalled" at the lack of redress that private patients had.
The investigation continues and there likely won't be an end until all affected victims are compensated.