A culture of “avoidance and denial” allowed a breast surgeon to perform botched and unnecessary operations on hundreds of women, a report has found.
An independent inquiry into Ian Paterson’s malpractice has recommended the recall of his 11,000 patients for their surgery to be assessed.
Paterson is serving a 20-year jail term for 17 counts of wounding with intent.
One of Paterson’s colleagues has been referred to police and five more to health watchdogs by the inquiry.
The disgraced breast surgeon worked with cancer patients at NHS and private hospitals in the West Midlands over 14 years.
His unregulated “cleavage-sparing” mastectomies, in which breast tissue was left behind, meant the disease returned in many of his patients. Others had surgery they did not need – some even finding out years later they did not have cancer.
Patients were let down by the healthcare system “at every level” said inquiry chair Rt Revd Graham James, who identified “multiple individual and organisational failures”.
“There was a culture of avoidance and denial, an alarming loss of corporate memory and an offloading of responsibility at every level,” he said.
“This capacity for wilful blindness is illustrated by the way in which Paterson’s behaviour and aberrant clinical practice was excused or even favoured.
“Many simply avoided or worked round him. Some could have known, while others should have known, and a few must have known.”
The coroner and West Midlands Police are looking into the deaths of 23 of Paterson’s patients.