The government publishes its long-awaited response to the Paterson Inquiry

The Paterson Inquiry has again reared its head as the government gives its full reply to the findings of the independent inquiry led by the Reverend Graham James, former Bishop of Norwich.

For those unfamiliar with the origins of the Paterson Inquiry, Ian Paterson is a disgraced breast surgeon who was jailed for 20 years in 2017 after being convicted of 17 counts of wounding with intent and three counts of unlawful wounding of patients he had treated in the private sector. Paterson subjected more than 1,000 female patients, including children, over a period of 14 years, to operations that were either medically unnecessary or left them exposed to a recurrence of breast cancer. Paterson later  became the subject of an Inquiry which concluded in February 2020 with multiple recommendations being made to prevent this kind of gross malpractice from occurring again.  Of particular interest to the Inquiry was the inherent failure of the system to stop these events over so many years of practice in the NHS and independent sector.  

The 15 formal recommendations made as a result of the Inquiry, though far reaching, fall short of demanding new regulatory and assurance processes. The chair of the Inquiry described a ‘healthcare system which proved itself dysfunctional at almost every level’, but did not advocate for a total regulatory overhaul. Rather, the focus of the recommendations was to ‘get the basics right and implement existing systems’ in both the NHS and private medical sectors, making full use of the resources available to ensure proper oversight and scrutiny of medical professionals.

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