Law expert to head inquiry into breast cancer surgery scare

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A health law expert is to head an independent inquiry into how concerns over breast cancer surgery were handled by hospital chiefs.

Sir Ian Kennedy will chair a review into how Solihull Hospital in the West Midlands handled the health scare involving hundreds of women.

Sir Ian, a lawyer who chairs the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA) monitoring MPs’ expenses, took up the position yesterday, the Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust said.

The review will scrutinise how chiefs handled concerns raised by staff, patients and public in relation to incomplete mastectomies carried out by breast surgeon Ian Paterson. The review will also ask if bosses acted appropriately on those concerns and carried out its actions “in a timely manner”.

Mr Paterson was suspended by the General Medical Council (GMC) in October last year.

Dozens of women operated on by Mr Paterson are now suing the trust and private healthcare provider Spire Healthcare.

He worked at Solihull Hospital carrying out a procedure known as ‘cleavage sparing mastectomies’ (CSM) on women from 1998 and which involved leaving behind some breast tissue to provide for an improved cleavage.

In 2007, the trust stopped Mr Paterson using the technique. Hospital investigations revealed it breached health guidelines.

The NHS trust then wrote to all those women on its records operated on by Mr Paterson last year, asking them to get in touch.

Many of the women believed they were having a full mastectomy, only to discover they had not.

Dr Aresh Anwar, Solihull Hospital medical director, said: “It was very important to us to make sure, first of all, that all of the patients concerned were seen and had their care reviewed and this is what we have been focusing on over the past 12 months.”

Sir Ian will make recommendations to the trust’s board in a public report.

Following Mr Paterson’s suspension, the GMC referred the case to West Midlands Police. Investigations are continuing.