Rogue surgeons are not common, but the consequences of just one can be catastrophic. It’s easy to see why, when they are identified, they make headlines. Their betrayal of patients’ trust is not only shocking, but important for the public to be aware of. What is not so widely reported is the cost of rogue surgery to the NHS.
We place a lot of trust in surgeons. And rightly so; for the millions of surgeries that are undertaken every year, it’s a small minority that go wrong. It’s an even smaller percentage of the tens of thousands of surgeons who practice that are inherently ‘bad’. But nevertheless, the consequences of just one bad surgeon can have far-reaching consequences. In part due to the number of people they can afflict, but also because of the severity of the affliction they can cause.
Dr Ian Paterson, is probably the most infamous culprit of recent years. He is currently serving a prison sentence for unlawfully and maliciously wounding 11 patients. An inquiry found that more than 1,000 patients underwent needless operations under his knife.
The Cost of Rogue Surgery to the NHS
The precise cost of rouge surgery to the NHS is difficult to establish for two reasons.
Firstly, although NHS Resolution do publish an annual report, covering the cost of clinical negligence claims to the NHS, there is no specific breakdown of how much is paid out due to rogue surgeons.
Secondly, it might not be apparent until many years later that a surgeon has ‘gone rogue’.
However, in September 2017 a £37m fund was announced to compensate Paterson’s victims. This was made up of £27.2m from Spire Healthcare – where Paterson performed many of his operations and a further £10m from Paterson’s insurers and the Heart of England NHS Trust.
In this year’s NHS Resolution annual report and accounts a glimpse into the cost is available. The report confirms to having contributed £3.6m, on behalf of the Heart of England NHS Trust, towards the £37m global settlement that was agreed. In addition, they have paid £887,025 in legal costs.
It’s not just the NHS that has been impacted by Paterson’s deviance though. The NHS’s annual report confirms that in addition to 378 claims which had been reported to them, 558 private claims have been reported to them too.
However, the NHS is funded by the taxpayer. So naturally, the taxpayer’s interest is piqued. Particularly in the present climate, where our healthcare system has been stretched and subsequently valued, more than ever.
It doesn’t stop at the NHS for the taxpayer though. If a rogue surgeon faces criminal allegations, there’s legal expenses too. A Freedom of Information request confirm that Paterson received £216,000 in Legal Aid to defend himself against the allegations. However, the Legal Aid Agency did vow to recover this money from him. Nevertheless, this doesn’t even include the public funds spent bringing justice against him.
Not an Isolated Incident
Whilst examples like Paterson are thankfully rare, they’re not unique.
Earlier this year Spire recalled patients of Mr Michael Walsh. He is believed to have performed outdated or unnecessary surgery. Although he isn’t facing criminal proceedings, he is the focus of multiple negligence claims. Whilst the fact that these were performed outside the NHS, might come as a relief to the taxpayer, it offers little condolence to those afflicted by him.
Pryers have recently settled a claim for one of his victims and we know there are more people out there who have been through similar experiences.
If you have suffered at the hands of a rouge surgeon, you need not suffer in silence. Contact Pryers Solicitors to talk about how we could help you get compensation on a no win no fee basis. Call us on 1904556600 or email us.