Birmingham & Black Country

Solihull Hospital's breast care services to be reviewed

Ian Paterson
Image caption Ian Paterson has been suspended by the General Medical Council

The way concerns over a hospital's breast care services were managed are to be independently reviewed.

The inquiry comes as police investigate surgeon Ian Paterson over alleged botched or unnecessary breast cancer operations at West Midlands hospitals.

Lawyer Sir Ian Kennedy will chair the review of services at Solihull Hospital, part of the Heart of England NHS Trust.

Up to 400 women are suing the trust and private firm Spire Healthcare.

Concerns about Mr Paterson were initially raised in December 2011, and over the last year the care plans of all patients thought to have been affected have been reviewed.

'Cleavage-sparing'

It is alleged he carried out the botched or unnecessary operations between 1994 and 2011, some of which were found to breach guidelines.

Mr Paterson is accused of performing "cleavage-sparing" mastectomies at Solihull Hospital and two private hospitals owned by Spire Healthcare in Solihull and Little Aston, Staffordshire.

He has been suspended by the General Medical Council and was stopped from performing surgery by the NHS trust, in 2007.

In a statement issued on his behalf, the Medical Defence Union (MDU) said he was co-operating fully with the GMC investigation.

A spokeswoman said: "He cannot comment further due to his duty of patient confidentiality and the ongoing investigation."

It found the "cleavage-sparing" procedure Mr Paterson performed left a small amount of tissue for cosmetic reasons, putting it in breach of national guidelines because of the risk of breast cancer returning in a patient.

Mr Paterson is also being investigated by the GMC over claims he may have also unnecessarily removed lumps from patients' breasts.

The NHS trust said the review would examine the trust's response to concerns raised by hospital staff and patients and other members of the public relating to incomplete mastectomies.

It would also consider whether "the actions taken in response were appropriate, and carried out in a timely manner".

'Take appropriate action'

Solihull Hospital medical director Dr Aresh Anwar said: "It was very important to us to make sure, first of all, that all of the patients concerned were seen and had their care reviewed and this is what we have been focusing on over the past 12 months.

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Media captionFor 17 years, Gail Boichat mistakenly believed she had cancer after undergoing an operation in 1995

"Now that this is completed we have, as promised, asked an experienced independent chair to look at the actions this organisation took, to see if there are lessons to be learned about how to raise concerns into clinical practice and how to take appropriate action."

Gail Boichat, who had a cleavage-sparing operation in 1995, thought she had had cancer for 17 years, but did not.

She said: "I never thought I'd see my boys grow up. I never thought I'd see them get married, because you live with that dread.

"Yes, I've managed it, but under these conditions and nobody should live like that."

The NHS trust said Mr Paterson had not carried out any procedures at the hospital since May 2011.

It added the review would look at the management of the women who had incomplete mastectomy procedures at Solihull Hospital.

About 540 women, including those who had full mastectomies and incomplete mastectomy procedures, have previously had their cases reviewed, the trust said.

Thompsons Solicitors, which is representing those taking legal action, said about 200 of them are suing the NHS trust, some of whose cases have been settled, with up to 200 further cases being pursued against Spiral Healthcare.

Sir Ian said: "People need to be reassured that the review will be independent.

"I'll report back to the trust but I'll do that in public."

Spire Healthcare said it was continuing to investigate the practice of Mr Paterson in conjunction with the GMC and the NHS Trust.

West Midlands Police also confirmed that its investigation was ongoing.

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