In April 2017, former breast surgeon Mr Ian Paterson was criminally convicted of multiple counts of wounding with intent at Nottingham Crown Court and was sentenced to 20 years in prison.

The court heard that Mr Paterson had been carrying out totally unnecessary surgical procedures and operations on patients referred to him for private treatment at hospitals run by private healthcare provider Spire. These ranged from invasive lumpectomies when biopsies would suffice all the way through to full mastectomies on women it later transpired did not have breast cancer. But his medical negligence didn’t end there.

Mr Paterson had also been carrying out surgical techniques, known as cleavage sparing mastectomies, on breast cancer patients at an NHS and private hospitals in the Midlands which were not recognised in clinical practice. In doing so, he put those patients at greater risk of their cancer returning despite the dangers of the procedures being well known and widely rejected as a technique by medical regulators.

A £37 million compensation package was approved by a High Court judge for the hundreds of private patients affected by his actions. This included £27.2 million paid out by Spire Healthcare - the hospital group where Paterson treated his private patients, and £10 million which was paid by Paterson's insurers and former employers at the Heart of the England NHS Trust.

In 2019, our clinical negligence lawyers, who acted for 620 former patients of Mr Paterson, have settled the last of the civil compensation claims for clients against the hospitals involved. 

Timeline of the Paterson case

  • 2011

    Hundreds of cancer survivors in the Birmingham area are advised to seek legal assistance after they were given a 'controversial sparing' mastectomy performed by Ian Paterson.

  • 2012

    Ian Paterson is suspended by the General Medical Council (GMC) in the autumn of 2012 following allegations of widespread medical negligence at a number of private hospitals in Birmingham.

  • 2013

    The NHS report into Ian Paterson reveals an 'embedded culture of the negligence' in the private sector, as Spire Healthcare remains silent about the dealings of Paterson in its hospitals.

  • 2015

    Let down victims of Ian Paterson protest at Spire Hospital in Solihull to voice their anger at Spire's delay in paying compensation.

  • 2017

    Ian Paterson is struck off at a medical practicioners' tribunal service and sentenced to 20 years. 

  • 2018

    Thompsons continues to campaign for private healthcare providers to put patients before profits.

  • 2019

    The Royal College of Surgeons echoes our call for private hospitals to do more to keep patients safe and to stop surgeons from causing anyone harm again.

  • 2019

    The independent inquiry investigating Paterson delays its findings once again, this time due to Brexit and the general election, unnecessarily delaying closure for victims.

  • 2020

    The Independent Inquiry into Ian Paterson publishes its long-awaited report.

Patients Before Profits campaign

The compensation claims may have been settled but we are still focused on stopping rogue surgeons like Paterson from harming patients again.

During our investigations into Paterson’s negligence on behalf of our clients, we exposed a number of issues surrounding private healthcare providers, and identified a number of ways in which they are trying to avoid taking responsibility for any problems that emerge from the treatment.

It seems fundamental to us that patient safety should be paramount, whether someone is being treated in a private setting or on the NHS. Our new campaign, Patients Before Profits - Justice for Paterson Victims, will work to ensure that wherever people are treated, the same legal protections and safety standards apply, and procedures will be followed.

What do we want to achieve?

The Patients Before Profits - Justice for Paterson Victims campaign aims to:

  • Expose and eliminate the ‘liability loophole’ in the justice system that exists for private healthcare providers. This has, for too long, allowed them to avoid responsibility for negligent staff working on their premises and keep all of the payments they have received for the treatment regardless of its outcome.
  • Ensure that private healthcare companies are held to the same standards and obligations of transparency, safety and accountability as the NHS.
  • Guarantee that patients are, at all times, put before profit: no healthcare provider should be able to get away with having a patient poorly treated “on their watch” and still be able to profit from that.
  • Secure a legal guarantee that all patients, wherever they are treated, will have the same remedies and opportunity for legal redress should they be injured by anyone else at the treatment centre.

“I am disappointed at the way this has been handled by Spire Healthcare and the General Medical Council, who seem to be trying to wipe their hands of it,” she said. “It has made me determined to ensure neither he nor they get away with what has happened. If a hospital is not responsible for ensuring the professionals working on its premises are acting ethically and responsibly, then who is?”

Sarah, our medical negligence client

How can I show my support?

There are a number of ways that you can support the campaign and tell private healthcare providers to put patients before profits:


About Thompsons

Since 1921, Thompsons has successfully helped hundreds of thousands of people who have suffered due to the negligence of others. Our specialist lawyers act swiftly and compassionately to ensure clients are provided with the upmost support and maximum compensation in the shortest possible time. You can learn more about Thompsons by visiting the About Thompsons page.