Myles Bradbury, 41, from Herringswell, Suffolk, worked as a paediatric consultant haematologist at Addenbrooke’s Hospital, Cambridge, where he carried out medical examinations on boys “purely for his own sexual gratification”, Cambridge Crown Court heard.
All of the victims suffered from leukaemia, haemophilia or other serious conditions. Some have since died.
He filmed some of them using a spy pen and abused others behind a curtain while their parents were in the room.
He pleaded guilty to 25 offences, including sexual assault, voyeurism and possessing more than 16,000 indecent images, against boys aged between 10 and 16.
Bradbury showed little emotion as he was jailed today.
Placing him on the sex offenders register for life and making him subject to a sexual offences prevention order, Judge Gareth Hawkesworth said: “I have never come across a more culpable and grave course of sexual criminality which has involved such a gross and grotesque breach and betrayal of your Hippocratic Oath and trust reposed in you by your patients, their families and colleagues.
“There are almost too many aggravating features to enumerate in this prolonged, carefully planned, cruel and persistent campaign of abuse.
“At the top of this comes the breach of trust.
“Your colleagues remain guilt ridden at having been unable to detect your offending earlier and having been successfully manipulated by you into ignorance.
“Your actions have undermined public trust in an already overstretched health service and have caused enormous expense and upheaval in the internal inquiries that inevitably followed your suspension from practice.
“All this almost pales into insignificance set against the trauma, fear and distress you have caused to your victims and their families - considerable psychological harm, I have no doubt - which I suspect will linger with them for the rest of their lives.”
The sentence means Bradbury will never see his daughter, born during the police investigation, unsupervised.
He was sacked from his job earlier this year and will never work as a doctor again, the court heard.
Prosecutor John Farmer said the defendant had a “long-standing, unlawful, sexual interest in boys”.
He added: “The defendant, through the trust he had acquired, circumvented the procedures and encourages a number of young patients to see him alone.
“It was in these circumstance under the guise of legitimate examinations he went entirely beyond the bounds.”
He abused the boys “for his own personal gratification”.
“On some occasions, when he failed to exclude the parent, he simply carried on behind the curtain behind which the boy had gone to remove his clothes.”
The offences took place over four and a half years, beginning within six months of him taking up his post in 2008 and continuing to the day he was suspended when the first concerns were raised.
At some point, he began using a camera pen in an attempt to gain images of the boys when partially clothed, Mr Farmer added.
Police found 170,425 images on this pen but none of these were classed as indecent.
Mr Farmer explained Bradbury was first arrested in December 2013 after police were alerted by Canadian authorities that he had bought a DVD containing indecent images of children as part of Operation Spade.
At that point Cambridgeshire Police were already investigating after concerns were raised about his conduct.
Bradbury, who, the court heard, was also involved in church and Scout groups, was described as “a man of great charm and persuasiveness” whom everybody trusted.
When one victim raised concerns with his mother, she responded: “He’s a doctor, it must be necessary.”
Mr Farmer said: “That was the very image that really protected him from anything other than the most persistent line of complaint.”
In mitigation, Angela Rafferty said Bradbury’s guilty pleas had spared his victims the ordeal of giving evidence in court.
She added: “Clearly on a human level something has gone very badly wrong in this man’s life and thought processes.”
She said Bradbury seemed to have repressed homosexual feelings during puberty and this influenced his behaviour.
Ms Rafferty added that he accepted what he did was “repugnant”.
“He knows he will not get any understanding or forgiveness because what he did was unforgivable,” she said.
Detective Superintendent Gary Ridgway, from Cambridgeshire Police, said: “This case has understandably caused distress to many people.
“Bradbury was highly respected and revered by the families of his victims, who trusted him implicitly.
“But he betrayed that trust in an appalling way, by carrying out examinations purely for his own sexual gratification.
“The investigation into his crimes was complex and challenging, and I want to acknowledge the support provided by Cambridge University Hospitals in order to gather the evidence to bring this case to court.
“I would also like to pay tribute to the victims and their families who have shown great bravery in coming forward and ensuring Bradbury was held to account.”
The Crown Prosecution Service in the East of England said the offences were “one of the worst” cases of a breach of trust it had ever prosecuted.
Michelle Brown, head of its rape and serious sexual offences unit, said: “This paedophile doctor took advantage of his young patients battling serious illness by systematically sexually abusing them. Such cruelty is unimaginable to most of us.
“The sentence given to Myles Bradbury reflects the seriousness of what he did and the breach of trust involved. We hope that it gives some comfort to those affected to know that he has been held to account for his crimes.”
John Cameron, head of the NSPCC helpline, encouraged anybody affected by Bradbury’s crimes to seek help.
Since July, the charity’s counsellors have supported more than 54 parents and other members of the public who were concerned about the case.
He said: “At some of the lowest points in their lives, countless families placed their trust and hope in Bradbury.
“His sexual abuse and perverted voyeurism of extremely vulnerable children was a grotesque betrayal of that trust.”
The NSPCC helpline is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week on 0808 800 5000 or [email protected]
Dr Keith McNeil, chief executive of the Cambridge University Hospitals Trust, said: “Our thoughts today are with our patients and families who were victims of Bradbury’s shocking and cynical abuse.
“Today’s sentencing of Bradbury cannot undo the damage he caused but he is finally behind bars and is no longer a risk to vulnerable children.
“The lengthy sentence shows Bradbury’s abhorrent betrayal and manipulation of his position as a doctor has been fully recognised.”
Liz Dux, abuse specialist solicitor at Slater & Gordon which is acting for the victims, said: “One cannot imagine a more serious abuse of trust.
“My clients and their parents have been left feeling violated and betrayed by someone who was supposed to be caring for them at a time when they were very seriously ill.
“Many of them had no reason to doubt the motivation for his activities and for them to have discovered later that they were being used for his own sexual gratification was devastating.
“At least he has spared them the ordeal of giving evidence but the length of his sentence reflects the gravity of his horrific and vile reign of abuse.
“In sentencing, the judge highlighted the ‘considerable psychological harm’ caused by Bradbury and our greatest concern is for those victims out there who may not yet fully understand that the doctor they trusted was, in fact, a predatory paedophile.”