A non statutory inquiry will look into the issue of insurance cover for doctors working in the private sector, the Department of Health has announced. The review follows the conviction this year of consultant breast surgeon Ian Paterson on 17 counts of wounding patients with intent. Paterson was later jailed for 20 years.
Paterson was employed by the Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust and had practising privileges in the independent sector at Spire Parkway and Spire Little Aston.
Lawyers representing Paterson’s private patients complained of difficulties securing compensation because of discrepanies around insurance cover for doctors working in the NHS and independent sector. In the event, Spire Healthcare reached an agreement to settle claims through a £37m fund announced in September.
The new inquiry will be chaired by the Right Reverend Graham Jones, Bishop of Norwich, and will look specifically at the arrangements for medical indemnity cover for clinicians in the indepenedent sector.
The inquiry will also consider information sharing beteen the independent sector and NHS and the role of insurers of independent sector healthcare providers.
The exact terms of reference will be confirmed at a later date, with the inquiry set to report in summer 2019.
Philip Dunne, health minister, said Paterson’s malpractice ‘sent shockwaves’ across the health system due to the seriousness and extent of his crimes.
‘I believe an independent, non-statutory inquiry, overseen by Bishop Graham James, is the right way forward to ensure that all aspects of this case are brought to light and lessons learned so we can better protect patients in the future.’
The inquiry will be informed by Paterson's victims and their families and will also consider the responsibility for the quality of care in the independent sector, and the appraisal and validation of staff working in this field.