The Surgical Forum of Great Britain and Ireland, which represents the four surgical royal colleges and surgical specialty associations, of the UK and Ireland says that surgeon Ian Paterson’s practice was unacceptable and raises concerns about the practice of surgery across the UK and Ireland, and has supported the call for an inquiry into the circumstances surrounding the case.
The recent publicity attending the Nottingham trial and conviction of Solihull surgeon Ian Paterson is a matter of grave concern to the whole surgical community. It raises concerns about the practice of surgery in the British Isles. Although this case primarily involved the treatment of women with breast conditions the principles of patient safety and multidisciplinary team working are equally as important in all surgical disciplines. The public deserve reassurance that surgeons strive to work for the benefit of our patients and recognise that this aim of excellence, safety and quality in care remains at the core of surgical practice today. It is also evident that society is changing and Surgeons are rightly being challenged about their practices by an increasingly knowledgeable and questioning public. Rightly, in our view, surgical outcomes for individual surgeons are now in the public domain. We as surgeons need to reassure patients that decisions are based on multidisciplinary team working. No surgeon should be working in isolation.
It appears that Ian Paterson was permitted to practice in a way that resisted documented challenge from both medical and nursing colleagues and others in both the public and private sector. His practice was not subject to peer review or ongoing audit and we as a Forum consider this wholly unacceptable.
The Surgical Forum is committed to promoting the culture of patient safety where team working is accepted as an integral part of daily life. Team working, in the sense that the focus is on doing the right thing for the patient and accepting that other members of the team can question and challenge in the name of safety and quality.
On behalf of the profession of surgery, the Surgical Forum of Great Britain and Ireland support the call for an inquiry into the circumstances surrounding this case and the reasons for the delay in stopping unacceptable practice.