Inquests opened into deaths of 10 more ex-patients of disgraced breast surgeon

Inquests have been opened and adjourned into the deaths of a further 10 former patients of disgraced breast surgeon Ian Paterson.

The coroner, judge Richard Foster, said he “had reason to believe” that sub-standard care by the jailed surgeon (pictured) had caused or contributed to the deaths of each of the women.

The new cases of the 10 women, who died between 1999 and 2015, are in addition to 38 inquests that had already been opened since July 2020.

The coroner said he believed there will be “about 70 or 80 live inquests to deal with” when substantive hearings begin from October next year.

Paterson is currently serving a 20-year prison sentence after being found to have carried out unnecessary and unapproved procedures on more than 1,000 breast cancer patients over 14 years.

Speaking before each inquest opening at Birmingham and Solihull Coroner’s Court on Friday, the coroner said: “Following a review of this case by a multi-disciplinary team, I have reason to believe that the deceased’s death was caused or contributed to by sub-standard treatment provided by Mr Paterson, and other clinicians involved in the care of the deceased.”

The 10 women who had inquests opened into their deaths on Friday had their details confirmed by Nicola Preston, a coroner’s officer. They are:

  • Veronica James, 71, a retired chemist assistant who died at her home in Solihull in 2015.
  • Elaine Morris, 45, who died at an address in Solihull in 2002 and had no occupation recorded.
  • Sheila Rideal, 62, a housewife from Solihull, who died at the Birmingham Heartlands Hospital in 2014.
  • Tracey Taylor, 29, a retail area manager of Solihull who died at a hospice in Solihull in 1999.
  • Pauline Tomkinson, 67, of Birmingham, who died at the Birmingham Heartlands Hospital in 2012 and had no occupation recorded.
  • Pauline Wale, 61, a retired bank clerk of Atherstone in Warwickshire who died at the Priory Hospital in Edgbaston in 2005.
  • Winifred Worrall, 85, who died at a nursing home in Solihull in 2001.
  • Karen Warren, 49, who died at her home in Birmingham in 2010 and had no occupation recorded.
  • Christine Baker, 59, a retired assistant headteacher of Balsall Common in the West Midlands who died at a hospice in Solihull in 2015.
  • Doreen Marvin, 67, a retired accounts assistant of Birmingham who died at the Birmingham Heartlands Hospital in 2011.

The coroner adjourned each inquest until substantive hearings, to start on October 7 2024 and due to last up to 11 months.

He urged any next of kin of Paterson’s former patients to come forward.

A previous pre-inquest review hearing in June was told that the cases of 417 patients, who had breast cancer listed in part one of their death certificates, had been reviewed.

A further 130 cases, where breast cancer was listed in part two of the patient’s death certificate, were also being examined to see whether it would be “proportionate” for them to be considered by the coroner.

The coroner previously said there were 294 further deaths where the cause of death was unknown due to it not being possible to trace a death certificate.

The inquests will “fully, fairly and fearlessly” assess whether Paterson’s actions or wider systemic failures contributed to the deaths.

Paterson worked in private and NHS hospitals from 1997 to 2011.

He was jailed in 2017 for 17 offences after carrying out “cleavage-sparing” mastectomies on patients, which left behind breast tissue and risked a return of cancer.

An independent inquiry ruled that he had carried out hundreds of unnecessary operations on hundreds of patients, exaggerating or inventing cancer risks.

The inquiry report also found that despite concerns being raised as early as 2003, Paterson was free to perform the harmful surgeries due to a “culture of avoidance and denial”.

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