Predatory surgeon Ian Paterson has been sentenced to 15 years in prison, after being found guilty of 17 counts of wounding with intent and three counts of unlawful wounding.
Paterson lied to patients, either exaggerating or even inventing diagnoses of cancer, so that he could perform unnecessary surgical operations. A jury at Nottingham Crown Court heard that Paterson, 59, carried out “extensive, life-changing operations for no medically justifiable reason” for “obscure motives”, which may have included his desire to “earn extra money”.
Mr. Justice Jeremy Baker told Paterson: “Each vulnerable patient you chose to exploit accepted your advice at face value. You deliberately preyed on your patients’ long-term fears without any regard for the long-term effects. You can be a charming and charismatic individual, but you deliberately used those characteristics to manipulate your patients.”
The judge also noted Paterson’s “complete lack of remorse”, a typical characteristic of predatory people.
The publicly funded National Health Service in the UK has paid £9.5 million in damages to settle cases brought by more than 250 of Paterson’s NHS patients. Private healthcare provider Spire has refused to pay compensation, claiming they have no liability for the operations performed in their hospitals by Paterson between 1993 and 2012.
Linda Milliband, who represents 500 of Paterson’s patients, says: “The injustice continues as the case has highlighted a gaping loophole in the justice system.” As well as dealing with the painful effect of unneeded surgery, patients also have to find the strength and resilience to face the stress of litigation. Spire says that the courts offer “the fairest and quickest way to determine where responsibility for his actions lies.”
This predatory surgeon damaged hundreds of patients over two decades without either Spire or the NHS taking notice. One patient, Diane Green, has said that, through unnecessary surgery, Paterson “stole my youth” and said that doctors who examined patients after Paterson had operated did nothing to halt his despicable practices. There are calls for a public enquiry to determine who was involved in the cover-up.
We need to be more aware of predators and actively protect others from their predation; unethical physicians and other mal-practicing professionals should not be able to hide behind the authority conferred by their qualifications or be protected by their professional organizations. Anyone who turns a blind eye to such vicious malpractice should be named and shamed.
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