Bishop of Norwich to chair independent inquiry into disgraced surgeon

In a rather unusual interweaving of law and religion, the Government has announced that the Rt Revd Graham James, Bishop of Norwich, will chair an independent inquiry into disgraced breast surgeon Ian Paterson, to look at any broader lessons that can be learned about private healthcare. The details of the inquiry were released yesterday, Thursday, following a pledge by Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt to hold a “comprehensive and focused inquiry” into Paterson’s wrongdoing.

Paterson – a consultant breast surgeon who was employed by the Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust – intentionally wounded his patients by exaggerating or inventing cancer risks, then claimed payments for more expensive procedures. In April, he was found guilty of 17 counts of wounding patients with intent and jailed for 20 years.

The inquiry will examine the circumstances and practices surrounding Paterson’s malpractice and look at how care can be improved locally and in the independent healthcare sector across the country generally.

In a statement, Bishop Graham said:

“The actions of Ian Paterson and the grievous harm he inflicted on patients are deeply concerning, and they have given rise to some serious questions which remain unanswered.

It is vital that the inquiry be informed by the concerns of former patients of Ian Paterson and their representatives. The interests of all patients, whether they seek treatment in the NHS or the private sector, should be at the heart of this Inquiry and I will do my very best in the interest of those affected and the public.”

Following the release of the details, and Health Minister Philip Dunne’s meeting with victims and their families, the initial scope of the investigation has been widened in recognition of their feedback that broader issues about care in the independent sector needed attention.

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