SHAMED rogue breast surgeon Ian Paterson’s guilty verdict for 20 serious criminal charges brought against him for performing extensive surgery for no medically-justifiable reason on ten former patients has been welcomed by the hundreds of patients who also suffered at his hands whilst being treated by him at the Heart of England NHS Trust (HEFT) and Spire Private Hospital in the West Midlands between 1997 and 2011.
Equally pleased with the verdict is Kashmir Uppal, a specialist medical negligence solicitor with Access Legal, who has been instrumental in bringing Paterson to justice by highlighting the issues relating to the unnecessary surgery he performed.
Kashmir was the lead solicitor in this matter for six years, from when she was first instructed to act on behalf of one of his former patients in 2010 in the civil case against the breast surgeon.
Speaking exclusively to The Observer this week Kashmir said: “When the first case arose, no-one else thought there was anything necessarily untoward and certainly no evidence that might justify making any civil claim.
“However, something in the medical records didn’t feel right.
“There was clearly something in Paterson’s practice that was unconventional.
“I decided to persevere and dig deeper into the medical records.”
Kashmir’s diligent research and determined efforts to get at the truth revealed Paterson was using unapproved surgical techniques and – as a result of that first case – many hundreds of women across the West Midlands region who had been treated by Paterson came forward and made a collective call for action.
When the size and scale of the issue became apparent, formal investigations at both HEFT and Spire were commenced leading to the Kennedy report and Verita review, and the criminal investigation started.
Paterson is still to be sentenced, but for Kashmir and her clients the struggle to get justice continues, especially for those patients he treated through Spire Healthcare.
Paterson is expected to receive a severe custodial sentence, which should help provide a sense of justice to his many victims, enabling them to start the process of closure and paving the way for early settlement of their civil claims.
To ensure robust safeguards are put in in place to protect patients from this happening again Kashmir is calling for a full public inquiry to find out how and why Paterson was able to continue to operate in the private sector despite concerns raised about his practice.
She added: “Many NHS-referred patients were convinced by Paterson that going private would be speedier and safer, but we now know that was not the case.
“While there is a need to address the question of accountability and routes of redress when it comes to medical negligence in private healthcare, there is in my opinion an even greater need for a full public inquiry to examine how Paterson was allowed to continue operating for more than a decade after concerns were first raised about his methods.”
Several more women treated by Paterson have approached Access Legal for help since the verdict was announced.
“Paterson’s unnecessary operations have had terrible consequences for hundreds and possibly thousands of people,” added Kashmir.
“The mental and physical scars remain with all of them for life but the guilty verdict and whatever sentence is handed down may also start the process of closure for his private healthcare victims and early settlement of their civil claims and I am tremendously proud that I and my team have been instrumental in helping these people on their journey for justice.”