A 59-year-old breast surgeon of Altrincham, UK was charged with 20 counts of intentionally wounding 10 patients – nine women and one man – for carrying out unnecessary operations on them.

Prosecutors said that Ian Paterson “exaggerated or simply invented” cancer risks to justify performing unnecessary mastectomies on his patients.

The procedures took place while Paterson was working at Birmingham's Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust and two privately run Spire Healthcare hospitals in the West Midlands between 1997 and 2011. He has denied all charges.

Conjuring up cancer risks to warrant big but unnecessary operations

During the period of 14 years, Paterson has repeatedly lied to patients about their conditions and performed dozens of botched mastectomies, which caused patients serious bodily harm. He carried out invasive breast surgery on women with suspected breast cancer when a simple biopsy might have been sufficient.

In addition, he is also accused of using a banned procedure, known as a cleavage sparing mastectomy that involves leaving behind some potentially cancerous tissue for cosmetic reasons. Concerns about his work first surfaced in 2007, but it was not until 2011 that he was excluded from the trust where he worked.

"He was extremely experienced and knowledgeable in his field – breast surgery – which makes what happened in this case all the more extraordinary and outrageous,” said prosecutor Julian Christopher QC.

This beckons the fact that the operations carried out were not simple mistakes or incompetent in nature.

Paterson is allegedly believed to have carried out the operations not because of having the patient’s best interests, but for his own obscure motives, among which included wanting to earn extra money by doing extra operations and follow-up consultations, or to maintain his image as a busy successful surgeon in great demand.

Unfortunate victims left literally scarred for life

Among his alleged victims is Rosemary Platt, a GP who went under Paterson's knife five times between 1997 and 2001. Paterson carried out two procedures on her without waiting for a report from a specialist breast pathologist, who ultimately recommended against any surgery.

“Ian Paterson systematically misinterpreted Dr Platt's pathology results, thereby raising her anxiety,” said Christopher. This caused Platt to undergo a full mastectomy and reconstruction.

Another victim is 25-year-old Leanne Joseph, whose milk ducts were removed by Paterson because he believed her scan showed pre-cancerous cells and advised her to undergo surgery. The scan was in fact normal and the operation was needless.

The life-changing operations have left Joseph unable to breastfeed, according to Paterson, a “small price to pay for her life”.

Adding to the list is Judith Conduit, 47 who was told by Paterson that she may have a rare condition and underwent a double mastectomy. The latter operation left her with problems, which led to 94 hospital appointments in the following 12 months.

"As a result, those patients and their families lived for many years with the belief that they could be very ill and underwent extensive, life-changing operations for no justifiable reason,” said Christopher, adding that some of the patients have consequently developed serious mental health issues. MIMS

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