A review has found that two hospitals missed opportunities to intervene against a consultant breast surgeon who was alledgedly performing unnecessary or incomplete operations.
The investigation into the work of Dr Ian Paterson at two private West Midlands hospitals was initiated by Spire Healthcare in 2007.
In 2012, Mr Paterson was suspended by the General Medical Council (GMC) due to negligent surgical treatment.
Spire Healthcare has since apologised “unreservedly” to all patients.
A number of key events and missed opportunities occurred at Spire Parkway in Solihull and Spire Little Aston in Sutton Coldfield leading to a failure to take action against Mr Paterson, the independent review concluded.
While he was employed by Spire Healthcare, between 1993 to 2012, Mr Paterson is said to have “continually breached” Spire’s practising privileges policy which should have alerted them that he was unwilling to comply with procedures.
In 2007, the Heart of England NHS Trust alerted the private healthcare provider of the issues surrounding the surgeon’s work. However the review has found there was little communication between the trust and Spire about HEFT’s investigation into Mr Paterson.
A total of 15 recommendations for improving procedures were made in the report and all will be implemented, Spire said.
Following Mr Paterson’s suspension by the GMC in 2012, the case was then referred to the West Midlands police.
Mr Paterson performed “cleavage sparing” mastectomies at both of the two private hospitals and Solihull Hospital.
The procedure, which left a small amount of tissue for cosmetic reasons, was condemned by the GMC because it breached national guidelines because it risked the return of cancer.
More than 700 patients, who had been treated by the surgeon and subsequently recalled by Spire, were contacted as part of its review.
Mr Paterson was invited to take part but declined to do so, Spire said.
Rob Roger, chief executive of Spire Healthcare, said the report made “challenging reading”.
“We give a full and unreserved apology to all of the patients and their families for any distress they have suffered as a result of their treatment by Mr Paterson while he was a surgeon at the Spire Parkway and Little Aston hospitals,” he said.
“I would also like to apologise to the professionals who raised concerns at the time Mr Paterson was practising.”
In December, an independent review of his work at Solihull identified many surgical failings that had put hundreds of cancer patients at risk.
The report said senior managers at the trust did not respond effectively until 2007 and their response was neither sufficiently robust nor rigorous.
In November, a solicitor representing some patients said the NHS has so far paid out £3,220,315 in damages, out of 503 claims.
A spokeswoman for the Medical Defence Union stated that Mr Paterson was unwilling to comment on the Spire report due to his duty of confidentiality and the ongoing investigations.