Surgeon ‘botched 1,000 breast operations’: Specialist suspended as police launch criminal investigation
It takes a long time for the NHS to notice anything
More than 1,000 women who were told they had breast cancer may have had botched or needless surgery, it emerged last night.
Surgeon Ian Paterson, who has been suspended from practising and faces a police investigation, is accused of operating on at least 450 women when they were perfectly healthy.
He also allegedly performed partial mastectomies on another 700 who did have cancer, using a technique which may have increased the likelihood of the disease returning.
Last night one lawyer said it was the largest clinical negligence case she had known in 16 years. Paterson, a breast cancer specialist, worked at NHS and private hospitals across the Midlands from 1994 until he was suspended last month.
About 100 of his patients have launched claims for compensation, saying the operations should never have been performed.
Grandmother Gail Boichat, 57, found out she had been misdiagnosed with breast cancer in February this year.
She had been treated by Paterson in 1995 when he was working at the Good Hope NHS hospital in Sutton Coldfield.
He performed an operation known as a cleavage-sparing mastectomy. This leaves some breast tissue behind for cosmetic reasons and is not sanctioned in Britain because of the risk of the cancer returning. He also prescribed the strong cancer drug tamoxifen, which she said brought on early menopause.
In February, after the General Medical Council began to investigate Paterson’s professional history, she was recalled to hospital and told there was no evidence she had ever had breast cancer. ‘I felt shock, horror, numbness. The words want to come out but you can’t say anything. You can’t speak,’ she said.
‘For a while I didn’t even tell anybody about this. It messes with your emotions. My life has been ruined. I have to look at the scar every day now, knowing that I didn’t need the operation.’
She said she wanted compensation and for Paterson to face criminal charges because ‘then I may get some closure. He punished me in some way and I think he should be punished’.
At least 100 of the female victims are being represented by legal firm Thompsons on a no-win, no-fee basis.
Kashmir Uppal, national head of clinical negligence at the firm, accused Paterson of being a ‘rogue surgeon’, adding that the allegations against him constituted the ‘largest scale’ clinical negligence case she had encountered in 16 years specialising in the field.
‘It’s the largest case that I’ve dealt with, with the number of women involved and the reasons he was doing this, which we just can’t establish,’ she said.
‘Clearly mistakes do happen in any clinical setting. Unfortunately, a midwife can misread a CTT trace, somebody will misread an X-ray, a GP won’t recognise signs of colorectal cancer… This is different.’
Paterson was suspended by the GMC last month and is scheduled to face a hearing on his fitness to practise next summer.
He was first investigated by Heart of England NHS Trust over the cleavage-sparing operations in 2004 but was not told to stop performing them until an internal investigation concluded in December 2007.
Seven hundred of the women he treated were then recalled to the hospital so they could have their conditions reviewed. It is unclear what motivation the surgeon may have had for allegedly performing the unnecessary surgeries.
Paterson, who is being represented by the Medical Defence Union, said: ‘I am co-operating fully with the GMC investigation and cannot comment on any of the issues raised because of my duty of patient confidentiality and the ongoing investigation.’
He worked at hospitals across the Midlands including the NHS’s Heartlands hospital, Solihull hospital, Sutton Coldfield’s Good Hope hospital and the private Spire Hospital Parkway and Spire Hospital Little Aston.
Paula Naylor, of Spire Parkway hospital, said: ‘We have referred this matter to the General Medical Council so they can investigate Mr Paterson’s fitness to practise but cannot speculate on the outcome.
‘Clearly we are looking at what we can learn from these events, but our priority right now is to hold consultations with those patients affected and to provide them with accurate information as quickly as possible.’
A GMC spokesman said: ‘Dr Ian Paterson’s registration is currently suspended, following an Interim Orders Panel meeting on 29 October 2012. ‘This means the doctor cannot work as we investigate concerns about his fitness to practise.’
Paterson is also accused of making false claims to health insurers, allegedly claiming for more expensive operations than he performed and for others that he had never carried out. Two of the patients claim Paterson submitted claims to insurance companies for operations which were more expensive than the ones he actually performed.
West Midlands Police last night confirmed a criminal investigation had begun. Detective Chief Inspector Matt Markham said: ‘A criminal inquiry has been launched and the force is working closely with the Crown Prosecution Service to determine the course of the investigation.’
Consultant obstetrician at centre of major probe into treatment provided to 1,500 women
A former consultant who helped deliver the Prime Minister’s baby daughter is at the centre of a major probe into the care and treatment he provided to more than 1,500 women, it has emerged.
An investigation was launched into Royal Cornwall Hospital consultant obstetrician Kenneth Jones, known as Rob, following concerns raised by staff.
As a result, 1,574 gynaecological patients treated by the consultant over the last two-and-a-half years have been contacted by the hospital.
Lezli Boswell, chief executive of the Royal Cornwall Hospitals NHS Trust (RCHT), said: ‘As a result of concerns raised by our staff about Mr Jones, we ordered an immediate internal investigation and at the same time limited his clinical practice.
‘RCHT then asked the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists to carry out an independent review of Mr Jones’ clinical practice. That review has been done and the trust has implemented all of its recommendations.
‘In addition, the trust is reviewing the care and treatment offered to specific women seen by Mr Jones. I know that while we are undertaking this review of some of Mr Jones’ patients, other women may have concerns or questions about the care and treatment they too received from Mr Jones.
‘I am deeply sorry for any anxiety, pain or distress caused to our patients. I also want to acknowledge and thank all those staff and patients who spoke out about Mr Jones.
‘The trust is committed to finding out the full extent of the problems caused by this individual consultant’s clinical practice and will take all steps necessary to ensure we do the best by our patients who have received poor treatment or care.
Mrs Boswell said Mr Jones was no longer employed by the trust and had not worked at the hospital since May 2012.
Faddist British doctors
James LeFanu comments:
Dear Dr Le Fanu
My husband is 76, in good general health and until recently was on no medication whatsoever. He suffers a few aches and pains after many years of playing various sports, and some acid reflux, but is otherwise fit, active and healthy. He eats a varied diet with occasional treats and is not overweight: his waist measurement has increased by perhaps half an inch in the last thirty years.
We recently had occasion to change our GP, and my husband decided that he would like an ‘MoT’ just to check his general health. He was told that he had ‘borderline’ Type 2 Diabetes and was prescribed one Metformin tablet daily. He was advised that, being otherwise completely asymptomatic, his readings were purely a function of age. We read the diet advice and decided that no changes were necessary. Tests on his sight and his feet have not shown any cause for concern.
He saw the practice nurse for the results of a routine check-up yesterday and was told that everything was fine, and he has ‘the blood pressure of a twenty year old’. His blood sugar level is 5.1. However, the nurse said she thought he should be prescribed statins and asked him to see the doctor.
Neither of us are very happy about this – someone who is to all intents and purposes fit and healthy may shortly be on two types of permanent medication with the associated possible side effects. My concern is that the practice saw a gentleman in his mid-seventies on no medication and perhaps interpreted this as a challenge.
We would appreciate your comments.
Mrs J Charlesworth
Dear Mrs Charlesworth,
Thanks for being in touch. As you will have surmised your husband is a casualty of the current vogue for family doctors to boost their income by over diagnosing and over treating their patients for medical conditions they do not have.
The notion of borderline diabetes (like borderline hypertension) is a fictional construct promoted by the pharmaceutical industry to increase the number taking their pills. It is based on the false supposition that the benefits of treating those with symptomatic diabetes can be extrapolated to those who have no symptoms but in whom biochemical testing reveals their blood glucose is marginally raised above an arbitrarily defined ‘normal’ level.
Neither, and for similar reasons, does your husband require statins. This can I appreciate be a tricky situation, but I am sure it is best dealt with frankly: your husband should stop his Metformin and request his name be removed from the practice’s diabetes register.
Immigration and the British elite
It is asserted that immigration is vital to the economy—indeed, The Economist magazine recently claimed that the Cameron government was foolishly restricting immigration that would benefit the economy. It is difficult to understand such claims when immigration is still running at an extremely high level, against the background of a situation where the UK has no immigration controls at all on the 500m or so citizens of the EU, and a lax policy on “family unification” for many millions of people in Africa and Asia. I think we can interpret The Economist’s ramping of its anti-British agenda as just another example of an élite group that sees itself as more enlightened than the British population by virtue of its support for cultural change, which is what The Economist would really like to see.
Take unskilled labour, for instance. We are drowning in it. There are many millions of unskilled people in this country living on social security. It may be that they don’t wish to take up employment, or that employers don’t wish to pay a living wage, or that employers don’t wish to take on the feckless long-term jobless—or, most probably, a combination of all these factors. But that does not mean that it is a sensible national policy to allow the millions on unemployment and “disability” benefits to remain out of work.
We don’t need any unskilled immigrants into the UK. I’m sure employers like the way that immigration helps to keep low-end wages down, but this is a case of privatising the gains of foolish policies like immigration and nationalising the costs: the benefits bill has to be paid for the millions who are maintained on social security, and immigration encourages crime and increases the expenditure associated with multiculturalism, costs that have to be borne by the public. From the point of view of a care home seeking people who will work for the minimum wage, the immigration of Filipinos may be a good idea. But from the point of view of the UK economy as a whole, it is not, and if the care home can’t entice people from the dole queues to work in care homes, they should raise the offered wage.
(The financing of long-term care is another, interesting topic: I do not support public provision, especially when the old person in receipt of care has expensive property assets, as this is purely done in order to prevent the sale of his property and allow his heirs to inherit the property, but this is another issue. In general, family members should meet the bill of their parents’ nursing care, or invite their parents into their homes and care for them themselves.)
Do we need mass immigration of graduates? I mean the sort of graduates with general university degrees that are not specifically geared to employment. We are also drowning in graduates, with around half of young people going to unversity and many graduates taking up work stacking shelves in supermarkets.
Consequently, there is no valid argument that such immigration should be welcomed either. There is a class of qualified workers, such as doctors and nurses, whose qualifications are more specific than a general university education, and where lacunae in the workforce may have be filled from abroad. If so, we should aim to find such workers in European economies, or from other states that are culturally similar to us.
However, once again, we need to ask why there are such lacunae in the workforce when so much money is spent on higher education. Maybe there are too many people studying for media studies degrees, and not enough people studying medicine. A correct educational policy would ensure that these workers with highly job-specific qualifications did not need to be hired from abroad either, and we should aim to rejig the higher education system in such a way as to eliminate the need for such immigrants within ten years.
This leaves us with only one category of employment that may genuinely need to be filled by immigrants: truly highly qualified staff of a kind that is hard to replicate or replace. I mean, for example, international footballers, or investment bankers, or CEOs of FTSE companies. This is a very high category of skilled personnel where the people cannot really be replaced by anyone else doing the same job. However, the numbers involved are tiny. You could require such immigrants to be given jobs earning £200,000 a year at a minimum (or, say, eight times the UK average wage on an ongoing basis). Our national policy should therefore be to prevent any immigration from people filling jobs earning less than £200,000 a year.
Although deceitful articles in The Economist claim that the UK needs immigrants, it only really needs the very final category of immigrants—and I would argue that even they should apply for five-yearly visas and should not be allowed to become naturalised citizens, being required to return home when their visas run out. This is, after all, the policy in countries like China.
Immigration has pushed up our benefits bill; added to the general population and required spending on schools and hospitals to cope with a growing population; added to crime and required greater spending on the police, the courts, prisons and insurance; added to business costs through anti-discrimination policies and their related tribunals; taken up our social housing and pushed up property prices for the native population; and created a cultural backdrop that is fractious and negative, where immigrants and their descendants constantly allege the British are maltreating them.
Isn’t it clear that immigration isn’t a policy designed to promote economic growth either? The House of Lords determined in a report (The Economic Impact of Immigration) that immigration did not promote economic growth (it had “little or no impact”—see page 24 of the report), and yet it is constantly asserted that this is the case, as the authorities try to pretend that a policy they favour for political and cultural reasons is really a necessity, for economic reasons.
It is rather disconcerting that the Establishment has the propaganda resources to assert these lies—if they wish to have these policies for political reasons, let them make their arguments in political terms—as most people are unsure of whether they are really true or not. I would close down The Economist magazine if I were in power, simply due to the rag’s constant mendacious propaganda in favour of an unfree, bureaucratically-dominated economy and society.
Bus driver who was fired for being in British anti-immigration party wins human rights case
The sacking of a bus driver for being a member of the far-right BNP was a breach of his human rights, the European court of human rights has ruled.
The decision by judges in Strasbourg follows a long legal battle by Arthur Redfearn, 56, who was sacked in 2004 from his job in Bradford, West Yorkshire, driving mainly Asian adults and children with disabilities.
The court ruled the actions of Serco breached Article 11 – the freedom of assembly and association – because he was sacked only because of his membership of a political party. The seven judges reached their decision on a 4-3 majority.
The court said it was “struck by the fact that he had been summarily dismissed following complaints about problems which had never actually occurred, without any apparent consideration being given to the possibility of transferring him to a non-customer facing role”.
It added: “In fact, prior to his political affiliation becoming public knowledge, neither service users nor colleagues had complained about Mr Redfearn, who was considered a ‘first-class employee’.”
It said the right to freedom of association “must apply not only to people or associations whose views are favourably received or regarded as inoffensive, but also to those whose views offend, shock or disturb”.
The judgment also criticised the fact Redfearn could not bring a case of unfair dismissal against Serco in 2004 because UK law said he had not worked long enough for the firm. The driver was forced to claim race discrimination because no unfair dismissal claim was allowed within the first year of employment.
The court said the UK had to “take reasonable and appropriate measures to protect employees, including those with less than one year’s service, from dismissal on grounds of political opinion or affiliation, either through the creation of a further exception to the one-year qualifying period under the 1996 Act or through a freestanding claim for unlawful discrimination on grounds of political opinion or affiliation”.
The court heard how Redfearn worked for Serco as a driver from December 2003 until his dismissal on June 30, 2004.
In its judgment, the court said there had been no problems with his work but other employees and trade union complained after his BNP membership was revealed in a local paper. He was summarily dismissed when he was elected as local councillor for the BNP.
In August 2004 he lodged a claim of race discrimination which was dismissed by an employment tribunal which found that any discrimination against him had been on health and safety grounds.
The tribunal found his continued employment could cause considerable anxiety among Serco’s passengers and their carers and there was a risk vehicles could come under attack from opponents of the BNP.
In July 2005 Mr Redfearn successfully appealed against this decision after an appeal tribunal heard no consideration had been given to any alternatives to dismissal.
But, in May 2006, the court of appeal allowed Serco’s appeal, finding that Mr Redfearn’s complaint was of discrimination on political and not racial grounds, which fell outside anti-discrimination laws. He was also refused leave to appeal to the House of Lords.
British council bans war veterans from marching through village because they had not completed extraordinary list of ‘elf and safety demands
War veterans were banned from walking through a village to honour fallen comrades because they had not completed an extraordinary list of council ‘elf and safety demands.
For almost 80 years, a small group of former servicemen in Warton, North Warwickshire, has marched with pride along a road in their town to lay wreaths at a local war memorial on Remembrance Sunday.
This year, however, the group’s seven remaining members were told they would have to use the pavement instead – because they had not provided an event plan, risk assessment forms, emergency contact details, marshals, event traffic management procedures, road closure applications, an evacuation plan and public liability insurance.
The staggering list of demands was eventually withdrawn after a campaign from outraged locals – but the British Legion veterans are still being made to fill in the ‘risk assessment’ forms before they can complete their five minute walk.
The men have now spoken of their ‘disgust’ at the way they have been treated. They added that they never had to complete ‘health and safety’ forms when they fought for their country and would have marched on the road regardless of the council’s decision.
In previous years, two local councillors have briefly stopped traffic so members of the Warton Royal British Legion could perform their traditional walk. This year, however, they were told it was unsafe to do so without applying for the road to be closed and marshalling the ‘event’ themselves.
‘With only seven active members, if we had acted as marshals there would be no-one left to march,’ said Terry Casey, a former Royal Air Force electrical mechanic who fixed Canberra bombers, Javelin Fighters and Lightnings.
‘It’s the first year we’ve had to do all this paper work. I didn’t deal with anything like that when I was in the RAF.’ Mr Casey, who is the branch secretary of the local British Legion, added: ‘I’m really angry and upset that this has happened. ‘It is a less than five minutes march from the school to the memorial. Then we hold the Act of Remembrance, then it’s a short march to the church – ten minutes at the most. ‘Normally we just notify the police that we are going to hold our parade and they say that’s fine, do you want us to come?’
Warton Royal British Legion membership secretary Alf Webber said: ‘We’re very pleased the council has finally seen sense. The parade in Warton has been going on since the war memorial was put up and when we thought we wouldn’t be able to do it, we were disgusted. ‘I wouldn’t have walked on the footpath, I’d have walked straight up the road regardless and placed my wreath on the memorial.’
A spokesman for the council said: ‘The Warton Parade will now go ahead this Sunday. We’ve spoken to the organiser and offered to help with his risk assessment. ‘Marshalling will be provided by the Parish Council.’
A spokesman for Warwickshire Police added: ‘We have the highest regard for the Royal British Legion and all those involved in the organisation of the annual events and throughout Warwickshire officers will be joining them on November 11 to pay our respects to those who have lost their lives in conflict.’
British newsagent bans children from buying shooting magazines
The country’s biggest newsagent WH Smith has banned children from buying shooting magazines, even though it is legal for them to hold a shotgun licence.
It is a sport enjoyed by thousands of children, and one which gained Britain a gold medal at the Olympics.
But children have been banned from buying shooting hobby magazines by Britain’s biggest newsagent – even though it is entirely legal for them to own a gun.
WH Smith, Britain’s biggest chain of newsagents, has banned youngsters from buying copies of country sports magazines after a campaign by animal rights activists.
The retailer, whose founding family owned a highly prized shoot in Buckinghamshire, says it has introduced an age limit on such magazines as Shooting Times because children are not allowed to obtain a firearms certificate until they are 14.
However, sports enthusiasts point out that this is wrong. There is no minimum age for holding a shotgun licence in Britain, although children below 18 cannot buy or own a gun themselves and under-14s must be supervised by an adult.
They question why the high street chain does not restrict the sale of motoring magazines such as TopGear to those old enough to drive.
“It is extraordinary that in WH Smith you can buy a car magazine at any age, despite the age limit of 17 for driving,” said Christopher Graffius, of the British Association for Shooting and Conservation.
“You can also buy numerous war magazines which depict the killing of people, yet WH Smith is concerned about children buying shooting magazines, a legal and an Olympic sport. “They are also causing enormous offence to adult shooters who are stopped at auto-scan tills.”
Thousands of youngsters take part in the sport at shooting clubs across the country and with the Cadet corps and Scouts.
“At the recent party conferences, front-bench spokesmen and Government ministers sang the praises of shooting sports for the sense of responsibility and discipline that they encourage in the children who take them up,” Mr Graffius added. “Yet WH Smith is trying to keep the magazines that encourage that approach out of children’s hands.”
British shooting achieved prominence at the Olympic Games when Peter Wilson won gold in the double trap, having begun shooting when he was still at school.
There are no legal restrictions on magazine purchasing. Legally acceptable pornographic magazines can be sold to customers of any age. Newsagents display them on the top shelf only by convention, so that children cannot reach them, while WH Smith voluntarily imposes a ban on them being bought by under-18s.
Earlier this year, Animal Aid, Britain’s largest animal rights organisation, published a report which claimed that the “lurid, pro-violence content” of country sports magazines could have a “corrosive, long-lasting effect on impressionable young minds”.
The report, Gunning For Children: How the gun lobby recruits young blood, argued that titles promoting guns should be put on the top shelf alongside pornography and banned for sale to under-18s.
It claimed that the magazines showed pictures of young children holding up or standing over shot pheasants, rabbits, foxes and pigeons and “glorified” cruelty.
A WH Smith spokesman said: “As part of our commitment to operate our business responsibly, we have a till prompt on shooting titles. “It asks our store teams to check that the customer is 14 years old or over, based on this being the legal age at which someone can possess a firearms certificate.”
British TV Channel admits it was wrong to censor the word ‘gay’ in an episode of The Simpsons aired at lunchtime
What did they think the alternative was? Homosexual, poofter, queer, faggot?
Channel 4 has admitted it made a mistake in editing the word ‘gay’ out of an episode of The Simpsons. The broadcaster’s compliance department removed a seconds-long section of the cartoon broadcast on Sunday afternoon.
But yesterday a spokesman for Channel 4 backtracked, admitting censors had acted ‘in error’ because ‘neither the word nor the context was unsuitable’.
The line was cut from a 1994 episode of The Simpsons, called Homer Loves Flanders, screened at 12.55pm on Sunday.
In the episode Homer goes to an American football match with neighbour Ned Flanders but at first is embarrassed to be seen with the religious man. The pair bond after Ned introduces Homer to the star quarterback.
As they drive away, they pass Homer’s workmates Lenny and Carl. Homer proudly yells out of the window: ‘I want everyone to know that this is Ned Flanders … my friend!’
In the original episode, Lenny turns to Carl and says: ‘What’d he say?’ Carl replies: ‘I dunno. Somethin’ about being gay.’
However in the version screened on Sunday, Carl’s line was edited out.