Breast surgeon invented cancer risks to stay ‘top of his game’

A breast surgeon carried out “completely unnecessary” operations for his own obscure motives, a court has been hearing.

Ian Paterson, 59, of Altrincham, Cheshire, denies 20 counts of wounding with intent against nine women and one man. Some of the whom later developed mental health problems as a result.

Mr Paterson carried out the procedures at Heart of England NHS Trust and privately-run Spire Healthcare hospitals in the West Midlands.

At Nottingham Crown Court, prosecutor, Julian Christopher QC described how patients “underwent extensive, life-changing operations for no medically justifiable reason”.
The operations were carried out between 1997 and 2011 when Mr Paterson was a busy surgeon with an “excellent bedside manner”.

Mr Christopher added that Mr Paterson was both knowledgeable and extremely experienced in his area of expertise – breast surgery – “which makes what happened all the more extraordinary and outrageous”.

“All of the operations were in fact completely unnecessary”.

Mr Christopher told the jury that the main issue surrounding the case was 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”.

He said the prosecution would suggest the surgeon carried out the operations “not because he thought it was in the best interests of the patient, but for his own perhaps obscure motives”.

Whether this was 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 told the jury that Mr Paterson may also have “enjoyed the responsibility that came with helping people”.

The court heard the details of three counts relating to Rosemary Platt, a GP referred to Mr Paterson in 1997, when she was 47, after finding a lump in her right breast.

Mr Paterson carried out two procedures on Dr Platt without waiting for a report by a specialist breast pathologist – which ultimately did not recommend any surgery.

Dr Platt later had a full mastectomy and reconstruction after becoming worried about further lumps.

According to the prosecution, “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 also heard how Leanne Joseph, 25, was left unable to breastfeed after unnecessary operations carried out by Mr Paterson.

She was told by the surgeon that she had pre-cancerous cells in her milk duct and was recommended for surgery two days later.

The court heard her scan had been “entirely normal” and that the operation and a similar one afterwards were unnecessary.

Mr Christopher told jurors other victims included:

Judith Conduit, 47, who underwent a double mastectomy after being told by Mr Paterson that she may have a rare condition. She had 94 hospital appointments in 12 months and was left with health problems.

An unnamed 42-year-old man who had a double mastectomy after being told he was “on the road to cancer”, although there was no evidence of malignancy.

Mr Paterson’s trial at Nottingham Crown Court is expected to last 10 weeks.

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