A judge has been appointed to hear the inquests due to the scale and complexity of the investigations which relate to the death of 27 patients. Further Inquests may also be opened in the period up to the next pre inquest review hearing in March 2024.
The indications are that the scope of the inquests will be wide ranging to include systemic failings by the hospital management and any inaction or failure of supervision by the regulatory agencies.
The preliminary enquiries were triggered by the West Midlands Police who approached the coroner following the conviction and sentencing of Ian Paterson for a number of offences relating to his treatment of patients.
As a result, a process was set up to identify and to carry out preliminary enquiries on patients who had been treated by Mr Paterson and had subsequently died of breast cancer. Enquiries were made of patients treated in both the NHS and in the private sector.
An independent multi-disciplinary team of medical experts made up of consultant breast surgeons and consultant oncologists has been instructed to meet and review the patient records. A consultant pathologist and consultant radiologist are included as required.
Shoosmiths’ Serious Injury partner and medical negligence specialist Kashmir Uppal, who has acted on behalf of patients and families of Mr Paterson, is representing the family of one of the former patients, commented that “the wide scope of the inquests is indicative of the coroner’s intention to go further and deeper into the events that happened at the former Heart of England NHS Trust and Spire, than any of the previous investigations”.
Kashmir said: “The families of the deceased will now have the opportunity to question the representatives of the interested parties with a view to more accountability. The ultimate aim of the coronial investigations has to be improving patient safety and protecting the public.”
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