Breast surgeon on trial removed women’s breasts ‘for no reason’


by Emma Dodds |
Published on

The trial is ongoing

A Midlands-based breast surgeon is on trial for carrying out "completely unnecessary" mastectomies on ten of his patients.

Ian Paterson, 59, has denied 20 counts of wounding with intent against nine women and one man over the course of 14 years.

Between the years of 1997 and 2011, the NHS Solihull hospital employee "systematically misinterpreted" results, and advised his patients to undergo the breast-removal procedure - leaving one of them unable to breastfeed.

The Midlands-based surgeon carried out "unnecessary" operations (Credit: Getty Images) ©Getty Images

The surgeon, from Altrincham, apparently told his patients they were "ticking time bombs". He worked at the Heart of England NHS Trust and the private Spire Little Aston Healthcare hospitals in Solihull, West Midlands.

Prosecutor Julian Christopher QC told the court that Paterson "exaggerated or invented" risks of cancer, and this his patients "underwent extensive, life-changing operations for no medically justifiable reason".

He added that some of them now suffered from mental health problems as a result of the operations.

Paterson is also accused of claiming pay for more expensive surgery rather than those he actually did.

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Some of Paterson's patients now suffer from mental health problems as a result (Credit: Getty Images) ©Getty Images

Mr Christopher continued: "He was extremely experienced and knowledgeable in his field - breast surgery - which makes what happened in this case, the prosecution say, all the more extraordinary and outrageous.

"All of the operations, the prosecution allege, were in fact completely unnecessary. The main issue is whether the patient was harmed lawfully or whether the prosecution are right that what Mr Paterson did fell quite outside the realms of reasonable surgery.

The QC added that the prosecution suggested the surgeon did the operations "not because he thought it was in the best interests of the patient, but for his own perhaps obscure motives.

"Whether to maintain his image as a busy successful surgeon in great demand and at the top of his game, whether to earn extra money by doing extra operations and follow up consultations.

He also suggested that Paterson may have "enjoyed the responsibility that came with helping people."

The patients underwent mastectomies when they did not need to (Credit: Getty Images) ©Getty Images

The court then heard details about three counts of wounding with intent against Rosemary Platt, a GP, who was referred to Paterson in 1997 at the age of 47 after she discovered a lump in her breast.

The surgeon then conducted a mammogram and a proceudure to have fluids removed, and carried out two further procedures on her without waiting to hear back from a specialist breast pathologist, whose report actually found that Dr Platt did not need any surgery. She then had a full mastectomy and reconstruction.

Mr Christopher said: "It was quite unnecessary and unjustified by the facts as Mr Paterson knew them to be.

"Furthermore, it was carried out deliberately and intentionally by Mr Paterson and, by its very nature, caused really serious bodily harm as he must have intended."

Paterson is on trial for wounding with intent (Credit: Getty Images) ©Getty Images

"Plainly Dr Platt was wounded, it was unlawful and the harm which was done, quite intentionally, consisting in the removal of Dr Platt’s right breast, was on any reasonable view really serious harm.

"All in all, Mr Paterson systematically misinterpreted time and time again Dr Platt's pathology results, thereby raising her anxiety, so that it is not surprising that she was apparently presenting with new concerns about possible lumps leading to excessive clinical visits and ultrasound examinations, and consenting to what in fact was a traumatic series of unnecessary operations."

The court was then told about another patient, Ms Leanne Joseph, 25, who is now unable to breastfeed after Paterson carried out unnecessary operations on her.

Ms Joseph was told by Paterson that she had pre-cancerous cells in her milk duct. She was then recommended for surgery just two days later, with Paterson apparently saying that the removal of her ducts would be "a small price to pay for her life."

Ms Joseph's scan had shown that everything was "entirely normal", and the operation she had undergone and another similar one on the recommendation of Paterson were "unnecessary".

The surgeon worked at hospitals in Solihull (Credit: Getty Images) ©Getty Images

They moved on to list other patients, one of whom was a 42-year-old man. He underwent a double mastectomy after Paterson told him he was "on the road to cancer", despite there being "no evidence of malignancy."

Another was Judith Conduit, 47, who was told by Paterson that she may have a rare condition which led to her having a double mastectomy in May and July 2001. She now has health problems as a result of the surgery, and had to have 94 hospital appointments over the course of 12 months.

The trial is expected to last about 10 weeks.

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