Our clinical negligence team in London has recently obtained a settlement for a client who was a patient of the breast surgeon Ian Patterson.
In December 1999, our client had what she thought was raised skin on her right breast. She went to her GP and was referred for a scan. Following the scan, she was given a hospital appointment to see Mr Paterson, who told her that she had breast cancer. She underwent an operation to remove a small lump from her right breast.
After the operation, Mr Paterson confirmed that the lump of tissue was malignant. He then did a major lumpectomy to remove a large amount of tissue from her right breast. Our client was referred for seven months of chemotherapy followed by a month of radiotherapy.
Once she had finished the course of radiotherapy, she went for a check-up with Mr Paterson and he told her this time that she had a tumour on her left breast. He said that he had diagnosed this from a scan although she had never felt a lump there. Our client underwent further surgery on her left breast and did not suspect any wrongdoing at this time. Mr Paterson carried out a partial breast reconstruction to even out her breasts after the two lumpectomies.
Our client continued to have regular checks with Mr Paterson. In March 2005 he told her that she needed further tissue removing from the left breast as well as further reconstruction surgery to both breasts.
In 2006 she was told by Mr Paterson that she had another lump in her right breast. She again had not felt the lump at all herself, but was informed that it was apparent from a scan. The lumpectomy was carried out in May 2006. She did not get the results back but was subsequently told that no further treatment was needed. Once again she was given the all clear and continued to see Mr Paterson until she stopped tamoxifen.
Our client did not suspect that anything had been done that was untoward until she read a newspaper article about Mr Paterson’s criminal convictions in April 2017. When she read this article, she realised that her surgeries might have been unnecessary.
She instructed us to investigate her potential claim. We joined her to the group action against Mr Paterson’s insurers, Spire Healthcare, and Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust (HEFT). A settlement of £37.5 million was negotiated through the group action and approved in a hearing before Mrs Justice Whipple in October 2017. At the approval, she commented:
“I would wish to add my own voice to the many who have expressed heartfelt sympathy for Mr Paterson’s former patients. He was their doctor, their surgeon, and they trusted him. He betrayed that trust. The physical pain and emotional anguish they have suffered in consequence cannot be understated. I pay tribute to their resilience in the face of such adversity. The damages which the claimants will now receive from this settlement will not eradicate the wrong done to them. Nor, I suspect, can the claimants simply move on as if nothing had happened; the consequences of Mr Paterson’s mistreatment will remain with them for years into the future. But I hope that the money they will receive under this settlement will go some way towards making their lives easier.”
We were able to secure £7,500 in damages for our client.