A leading health expert is to head an independent inquiry into how concerns over breast cancer surgery were handled by trust managers.
Lawyer Sir Ian Kennedy will chair the review into how management at Solihull Hospital in the West Midlands handled the health scare involving hundreds of women.
Sir Ian, who chairs the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA) monitoring MPs’ expenses, took up the position on Wednesday, the Heart of England Foundation Trust announced.
The review will scrutinise how managers handled concerns “raised by staff, patients and the public” in relation to incomplete mastectomies carried out by breast surgeon Ian Paterson.
The review will also ask if bosses acted appropriately on those concerns and carried out its actions “in a timely manner”.
Mr Paterson was suspended by the GMC in October last year.
Dozens of women operated on by Mr Paterson are now suing the trust and private healthcare provider Spire Healthcare.
He worked at Solihull Hospital carrying out a procedure known as ‘cleavage sparing mastectomies’ (CSM) on women from 1998 and which involved leaving behind some breast tissue to provide for an improved cleavage for the patient.
In 2007, the trust stopped Mr Paterson from using the surgical technique.
The hospital’s investigations at the time revealed the procedure - which was carried out only on some mastectomy patients - had breached health guidelines.
The NHS trust then wrote to all those women on its records operated on by Mr Paterson last year, asking them to get in touch.
Many of the women believed they were having a full mastectomy, only to discover they had not.
Dr Aresh Anwar, Solihull Hospital medical director, said: “It was very important to us to make sure, first of all, that all of the patients concerned were seen and had their care reviewed and this is what we have been focusing on over the past 12 months.
“Now that this is completed we have, as promised, asked an experienced independent chair to look at the actions this organisation took, to see if there are lessons to be learned about how to raise concerns into clinical practice and how to take appropriate action.”
Sir Ian will make recommendations to the trust’s board in a public report expected to be completed by the summer.
Lord Philip Hunt, health trust chairman, said: “The board fully recognises the concerns expressed by patients about the length of time taken to complete the clinical investigation and to take action.
“It therefore wants a fully open, independently conducted review to determine whether there are lessons to be learned about how the organisation responded to the situation as it evolved, and how it might improve its response to concerns if they are raised in the future.
“We hope this review may also assist the wider NHS when facing concerns about individual practitioners.”
Although not all the patients who underwent surgery had cancer, the trust previously said it was “unable to advise definitively” if the risk of recurrence was greater than if they had had a full mastectomy.
The trust said he had not carried out any surgery at Solihull since May 2011.
Mr Paterson worked at five NHS and private hospitals between 1994 and 2011.
Following the suspension, the GMC referred the case to officers at West Midlands Police last year.
A spokesman for the force confirmed its investigations are continuing.
The Medical Defence Union, representing Mr Paterson, said: “He is fully co-operating with the GMC investigation.
“He cannot comment further because of patient confidentiality and the ongoing investigation.”
Press Association copy