17 January 2024

Inquests opened into deaths of six more ex-patients of disgraced breast surgeon

17 January 2024

A further six inquests have been opened and adjourned into the deaths of former patients of disgraced breast surgeon Ian Paterson.

Paterson is currently serving a 20-year prison sentence after being found to have carried out unnecessary and unapproved procedures on more than 1,000 breast cancer patients over 14 years.

The consultant breast surgeon, who was employed by the Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust and practised in the independent sector at Spire Parkway and Spire Little Aston, all in Birmingham between 1997 and 2011, was convicted of 17 counts of wounding with intent and three counts of unlawful wounding and sentenced in 2017.

The six new inquests opened at Birmingham and Solihull Coroner’s Court on Wednesday are in addition to 48 inquests that had already been opened since July 2020.

We would welcome any publicity to encourage any next of kin to come forward and contact my legal team

The coroner, judge Richard Foster, who has been appointed to conduct investigations into a number of deaths of Paterson’s former patients where their deaths may have been “unnatural”, adjourned each inquest until final hearings start on October 7.

Mr Foster said it was his duty to ensure “all the facts are fully, fairly and fearlessly investigated” in each case.

The six women who had inquests opened into their deaths on Wednesday had their details confirmed by Ben Appleton, a coroner’s officer. They are:

– Linda Cotterill, 55, who died on March 4 2007 at the Good Hope Hospital in Birmingham

– Sylvia Atterbury, 67, a retired shop manager who died on May 17 2014 at her home in Birmingham

– Janet Law, 50, a retired midwife who died on December 19 2007 at home in Solihull

– Catherine Harrow, 88, a retired medical administrator who died on July 15 2011 at home in Birmingham

– Clair Hawthorne, 51, a retired teacher who died on January 26 2016 at Solihull Hospital

– Marjorie Taylor, 81, who died on March 2 2010 at a nursing home in Solihull

Mr Foster said coroner’s officers had been carrying out extensive enquiries but had not been able to trace any next of kin for Mrs Taylor, adding: “We would welcome any publicity to encourage any next of kin to come forward and contact my legal team.”

Paterson carried out “cleavage-sparing” mastectomies on patients, which left behind breast tissue and risked a return of cancer.

An independent inquiry ruled that he had carried out hundreds of unnecessary operations on hundreds of patients, exaggerating or inventing cancer risks.

The inquiry report also found that despite concerns being raised as early as 2003, Paterson was free to perform the harmful surgeries due to a “culture of avoidance and denial”.

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