A surgeon has been found guilty of carrying out unnecessary operations, including mastectomies, on patients.
Breast cancer specialist Ian Paterson, 59, was convicted of 20 counts of wounding with intent by a jury at Nottingham Crown Court – but it is believed the true number of victims could be in the thousands.
The trial heard he carried out extensive, life-changing operations for no medically justifiable reason, exaggerating or lying about the risk of cancer – possibly to boost his earnings.
More than 700 patients had to be re-screened and 68 women developed a recurrence of breast cancer after unauthorised “cleavage-sparing” operations carried out by Paterson.
And the NHS has so far had to pay out almost £18m – including £9.5m damages – following claims from nearly 800 patients of the Scottish-born medic.
Paterson, wearing a black suit, blue shirt and red tie, sobbed as the foreman of the jury returned the guilty verdicts, as did his daughter Emily, who was also in court.
He was granted conditional bail – but faces a maximum sentence of life in prison when he is sentenced in May.
Among his victims was Frances Perks. She was first referred to Paterson in 1994 when she was 35 after finding a lump in her breast.
Over subsequent years he encouraged Ms Perks to undergo 27 unnecessary biopsies before telling her she needed a mastectomy or risk “full blown cancer”.
She had the operation in 2008 as she had understandable concerns after losing both her mother and sister to cancer.
Recalling her meetings with Paterson she said: “He would say there’s something sinister, something doesn’t look right and we need to remove it.
“You’re going to be guided by what he tells you. And he’d always say ‘and because of your family history this needs to be dealt with’.”
Four years after her mastectomy she was recalled to the Spire hospital in Solihull by a different specialist.
She said: “The consultant went through everything and one by one said I didn’t need any of the operations and also I didn’t need a mastectomy. So that was a big shock. You can’t get your head around it and I still can’t now.
“To say that I hate him is an understatement.”
Patricia Welch was another of Paterson’s victims. She too had a mastectomy, only to recalled 11 years later to be told it did not need to be done.
She said the scars are a contestant reminder and describes her experience as like being assaulted.
“You sort of look at yourself in the mirror and you think every morning you think ‘we’ll all this was necessary because it’s stopped me from having cancer so it’s all necessary'” she said.
“And then when you next look at yourself, when you come back, and you look at yourself and you know that none of it was necessary.”
West Midlands Police said they have received complaints from 240 of Paterson’s patients who were seen by him at the Heart of England trust and Spire private hospitals in the West Midlands between 1997 and 2011.
Paterson was suspended by the General Medical Council in 2012.
He owned a luxury home in Birmingham’s Edgbaston, had numerous properties in Cardiff and Manchester and
also had a US holiday home, West Midlands Police said.
Chief Superintendent Mark Payne said: “The procedures carried out by Ian Paterson on vulnerable patients were unnecessary and caused physical suffering, scars and wounds to the patients.
“Also, as a result of his greed and arrogance, many of the patients have suffered psychologically, believing they needed to undergo the procedures because they were at risk from breast cancer.
“Paterson was a controlling bully, who played God with people’s lives so he could live a luxurious lifestyle.”