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Rogue breast surgeon

Portfolio politics

Louise Newson

Tuesday, 09 May 2017

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justice concept_shutterstock_611205149.jpgAs a GP in Solihull, West Midlands, I have referred many women to local breast surgeons for their expert advice and opinions. In the past, I referred women to Ian Paterson until I started to hear stories about some of the dubious surgery he was undertaking in some of my patients. I was also concerned about some of the younger women who were being operated on with rather vague indications.

My senior partner tried to express concerns about him but his complaint did not get very far. An audit of his practice at the time did not find anything suspicious either.

However, we were all still hearing stories that did not make clinical sense. The histology following some of the breast operations he did was not always discussed in MDTs and more local doctors started expressing some concerns.

The rest is history. Breast surgeon Ian Paterson has finally been convicted of intentionally wounding and harming patients. He had been carrying out completely unnecessary operations including “cleavage sparing mastectomies” for which there is no medical indication.

It is so desperately sad that this has happened. His intentions for behaving in this way are unclear and I am not sure we will ever know what they were. I cannot believe they were all financial reasons.

In the past, Paterson’s patients really liked him and often commented on his bedside manner and how charming he was. How wrong they were to feel like this.

As doctors, we are very privileged to be working with patients, often at a very vulnerable time of their lives. Any behaviour to take advantage of this position is inexcusable and totally unforgivable. I really hope that he is given the sentence he deserves.

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Louise Newson

Louise is a part-time GP in Solihull, as well as a writer for numerous medical publications, including She is an Editor and Reviewer for e-learning courses for the RCGP. She is an Editor for Geriatric Medicine journal and the British Journal of Family Medicine. Louise has contributed to various healthcare articles in many different newspapers and magazines and is the spokesperson for The Information Standard. She has also done television and radio work. Louise is a medical consultant for Maverick TV and has participated regularly in ‘Embarrassing Bodies Live from the Clinic’. Louise has three young children and is married to a consultant urological surgeon. Although her spare time is limited she enjoys practising ashtanga yoga regularly and loves road cycling – she has raised over £2K for a local charity, Molly Olly Wishes by competing in a 120km cycle ride!
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