Published this week and reported by the BBC, the independent inquiry into the criminal practices of the breast surgeon, Ian Paterson, has made a series of recommendations aimed at ensuring that such an outrage cannot happen again.

Ian Paterson, who carried out unnecessary or inappropriate surgery on numerous women over many years, is currently serving a 20-year jail sentence.

The inquiry’s recommendations include the following:

• It should be standard practice that consultants in both the NHS and the independent sector should write to patients outlining their condition in simple language, copied to their GP
• There should be a short period introduced into the process of patients giving consent for surgical procedures to allow them time to reflect on their diagnosis and treatment options
• The Government should, as a matter of urgency, reform the current regulation of indemnity products for healthcare professionals, in light of the serious shortcomings identified by the inquiry
• When a hospital investigates a healthcare professional’s behaviour, any perceived risk to patient safety should result in the suspension of that professional.
• When things go wrong, the (health) boards should apologise at the earliest stage of the investigation
• Information about the means to escalate a complaint to an independent body is communicated more effectively in both the NHS and the independent sector.

Furthermore, the inquiry recommended the recall of all 11,000 of Paterson’s patients, in both the NHS and the independent sector.

The inquiry described the healthcare system at the time of Paterson’s actions as ‘dysfunctional at every level when it came to keeping patients safe’.

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