Medical negligence lawyers from Access Legal and some of their clients attended Nottingham Crown Court on 31 May 2017 for the sentencing of consultant breast surgeon Ian Paterson, found guilty of 17 charges of wounding with intent relating to nine women and one man to 15 years in prison.
Paterson had been under criminal investigation for a number of years following unnecessary surgical procedures he carried out at Spire Private Hospital and the Heart of England NHS Trust (HEFT) in the West Midlands between 1997 and 2011. The judge, Mr Justice Jeremy Baker, indicated that the sentence would not be the maximum possible of life, but said that it was unprecedented to see a surgeon sentenced for crimes of this nature and gave Paterson a custodial sentence of 15 years. He told the convicted surgeon:
‘Your motivation will never be known, but in pursuit of your own material rewards, you lost sight of what you were doing. 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.’
69 year-old Lesley Cuthbert, a client of Access Legal who elected for private treatment rather than the NHS on Paterson’s advice, expressed her dissatisfaction with the sentence:
‘I really think he should have got life for all those he mistreated, especially those who, as a result of what he did, lost their lives. The only comfort is that, without Kashmir Uppal’s persistence and all the hard work by her team, Paterson’s crimes may never have come to light, so at least he is now prevented from doing any more harm.’
Kashmir Uppal, a specialist medical negligence solicitor, has been instrumental in pursuing claims on behalf of those injured by Paterson since 2010, when she was first instructed to act on behalf of one of his former patients. She has been the lead solicitor in the Paterson case before she joined Access Legal as a medical negligence partner and continues to represent women and men treated by Paterson in the private health sector. Kashmir feel a strong message has been given by the sentencing:
“I’m disappointed on behalf of my clients with the sentence, but accept that this was at the upper end under sentencing guidelines that the judge had to follow.
“This was a surgeon of some seniority who was carrying out unnecessary operations on so many patients over such a long period of time and found guilty of very, very serious charges.
“I hope that this severe sentence has sent out a warning to other potential rogue doctors who believe they can practice in this way and get away with it.”
The civil claims on behalf of women Paterson treated on the NHS have largely been settled because the Trust accepts that Paterson was their employee who acted negligently in carrying out unnecessary and non-standard procedures.
Access Legal continues to fight claims by those treated by Paterson in the private sector which are still outstanding because Spire maintain that he was not their employee and therefore they are not liable. Those claims should be finally resolved in October 2017.
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