KASHMIR Uppal, who has been fighting for those harmed by consultant breast surgeon Ian Paterson for over seven years, has supported calls for a full public inquiry into the affair.
Found guilty of charges of wounding with intent relating to nine women and one man on 28 April 2017, Paterson was sentenced to 15 years in jail at Nottingham Crown Court on May 31.
He had been under criminal investigation for a number of years for performing unnecessary surgical procedures at Spire Private Hospitals in the West Midlands between 1997 and 2011, despite the fact that Spire Healthcare and the Heart of England NHS Trust where he was employed, were aware of concerns about his practice and use of non-standard, unapproved and unsafe surgical techniques.
Kashmir said: “Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has been widely reported as expressing a desire to set up an investigation as a priority post-election to establish how Ian Paterson was allowed to act the way he did and carry out unnecessary operations for almost 15 years.
“Such an investigation should explore why the concerns of whistle-blowers, colleagues and patients themselves were ignored and why the authorities in both the Heart of England NHS Trust and Spire Private Hospital failed to carry out a thorough review when those concerns about Paterson’s practice were first raised.”
It is believed that there could be more than 1,000 victims of Paterson’s malpractice and some patients who suffered at his hands have called for a full public inquiry into how his crimes went unchecked for so long.
Kashmir maintains that only through a full public inquiry will the steps be taken to prevent potential rogue surgeons like Paterson slipping through the net in future.
She added: “I think the public need to be convinced that we will get to the truth about what happened.
“If there is a public inquiry, although that may well be a more costly way of investigating what happened and what went wrong at this stage, it will save public funds in the long run because it will make sure that lessons are indeed learned and steps are taken to prevent this kind of thing happening again.’
“The actions of Ian Paterson were profoundly shocking.
“A highly qualified, senior medical professional, with a duty of care towards his patients, totally neglected that duty and instead performed unnecessary procedures on a huge number of women and men.
“A full public inquiry could also go a long way to restoring the faith and confidence the public are entitled to have in those medical professionals who should be acting in their patients’ best interest.
“A confidence and faith that Paterson has done so much to erode.”
Kashmir also believes that a public inquiry should consider how to ‘close the legal loophole’ which has left those treated privately by Paterson facing the possibility of their claim for compensation for the unnecessary injuries they suffered not being met because Paterson’s insurers, the Medical Defence Union, were able to withdraw cover and Spire Healthcare has denied legal responsibility for his actions.
She added: “When patients pay privately for treatment and receive negligent care, there is a greater risk that they will not be adequately compensated for their injuries because the surgeon or clinician may have inadequate insurance cover or, as in the Paterson case, the insurance cover is subsequently withdrawn.
“Any claim against the private healthcare facility is also likely to be resisted on the basis that the surgeon or clinician is not operating as an employee and that the private healthcare facility is merely facilitating the treatment.
“These issues don’t arise if the treatment is received in an NHS facility.
“Irrespective of whether patients are treated in the private sector or NHS they should be entitled to the same protection when things go wrong.”