Women who received controversial breast cancer operations from a Birmingham surgeon who has now been suspended have been speaking out.
Ian Stuart Paterson is facing claims for procedures carried out in a number of NHS and private hospitals since 1994, including Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust, which covers Good Hope, Solihull and Heartlands Hospitals, and BMI The Priory (Birmingham), Spire Parkway (Solihull) and Spire Little Aston.
The investigation into Mr Paterson spans up to 700 cases of an unregulated (so-called 'cleavage-sparing') procedure that involved leaving some breast tissue behind after a mastectomy, as well as up to 450 cases of women who have had invasive breast surgery when a biopsy (which should have been done first) may have been sufficient.
Thompsons Solicitors are already handling nearly 100 claims as the women seek justice.
One of the representatives Kashmir Uppal says: 'It is staggering this was allowed to go on for such a long time and to cause so much needless worry and risk'
'The so-called cleavage-sparing procedure increases the risk of cancer returning by 40-50% and the lumpectomies carried out without biopsies mean that some of these women had surgery when they did not need it at all.'
'It seems there were no checks and balances to prevent this surgeon breaching national guidelines and continuing to do so over such a long period. What guarantee is there that these practices have not been used by other surgeons'
Thompsons has set up a helpline for women who may be affected - 08000 224 224.
Aresh Anwar, Medical Director for Heart of England Foundation Trust has released this statment:
'In 2007, a review of breast surgery services provided through Solihull Hospital, identified that a surgical technique for mastectomies used by one of its consultants Mr Ian Paterson required closer scrutiny to establish whether it represented best practice, based upon current clinical knowledge. This procedure was not performed on all patients undergoing mastectomy. An external review highlighted that this was not a usual procedure and that Mr Paterson had not followed guidelines to introduce a new technique.'
'This Trust's position, after careful consideration, was that the technique was not an approach considered appropriate going forward, and the method was therefore stopped. Mr Paterson was directed not to perform the procedure any further in December 2007. Following this the Trust then began a process of identifying patients who may have undergone this procedure, to ensure we reviewed their current clinical condition.'
'The Trust has invited all of Mr Paterson's patients who underwent a mastectomy to see an alternative surgeon for a review of their treatment and care. This includes patients who have been discharged. All patients were seen by the end of March this year.'
'We have and continue to work hard to increase our understanding of the clinical issues and any potential consequences of this procedure, and in order to help patients with their treatment decisions. The Trust is currently undertaking work with the West Midlands Cancer Intelligence Unit (WMCIU) in order to monitor recurrence rates.'
'Mr Ian Paterson has been suspended by the GMC and he has not carried out any procedures or been involved in any patient care within the hospital since May 2011.
'We would urge anybody who is concerned to contact our advice line on 0121 424 5473 which is available between the hours of 9am and 12 midday, Monday to Friday with the opportunity to leave a message at other times. If anyone is at all concerned we would encourage them to get in touch.'