HEALTH – PATERSON INQUIRY – 4 February 2020
Dr Julian Lewis: Can the Minister explain under what circumstances this criminal behaviour was finally exposed? Has anybody from the regulatory side been sacked as a result of their abject failure to discover it earlier?
[The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health and Social Care (Ms Nadine Dorries): There was actually quite a long process. As I say, Paterson practised between 1997 and 2011, and there was quite a long process of reporting and of concerns being raised about his behaviour and his practice. Eventually, somebody listened; I believe that it was a new chief executive at the Spire hospital trust at the time. Somebody spoke out to him, he looked at the history of what had happened and he decided to take action. That is not good enough, however, because reports had been made on a number of occasions previously. In fact, there were two reports. One, by a consultant, looked at 100 of his cases in 2011, but no action was taken. Another report, by another NHS consultant, downplayed and focused on the wrong elements of Paterson’s care, and it took somebody to speak to a new chief executive for action to be taken. The process was all wrong, but that is how it was then, and it is very different now.
As I have said, the GMC has introduced revalidation and appraisal. We have been speaking to it, and we want it to make that process more robust so that we can assess doctors in a more appropriate and frequent way. The CQC is holding the private sector to account, as well as the NHS. Those of us who have been here for more than a few years know that a few years ago the CQC was not the organisation that it is today, and it is now much more robust and effective. We therefore hope that we can pick up cases such as this as they happen. However, the only way to crack patient safety in this country is if somebody who is practising alongside a surgeon, doctor or nurse speaks out, and for those to whom they speak to listen, so that we can act.]