The Paterson case rears its very ugly head again, and again the NHS’s neglect of patient care is highlighted in the most horrific circumstances. Surgeon Ian Paterson’s treatment of patients with breast cancer was so bad that he has been given a 20-year prison sentence, and reading the official Report – all 230 pages – shows yet again the way the NHS can be oblivious to what happens to patients.
Reading this document, the saddest thing for me is the way patients can be treated by medical staff. We put our trust in them, boast that the NHS is wonderful, yet time and time again the Report quotes patients as saying they were scared of complaining, in case they were picked upon by NHS staff. This is not an unusual fear; one of my best friends was butchered by this Paterson. Shortly after the first case against him finished; she found herself back in hospital with more cancer – and instead of being treated with TLC, was treated like a whistleblower.
She mentioned to her doctor that she had been one of Paterson’s victims, and consequently was extremely worried about what was going to happen this time. You would imagine the doctor and his staff would have gone out of their way to give her lots of TLC – you would have been wrong. Her fears were brushed aside, after her op she often had to wait until someone answered her bell, there were delays giving her pain relief, and she was told she was being sent home when her drip was still leaking blood. Living on her own she tried to convince them she wouldn’t be able to cope with changing her drip – but they were adamant they “needed her bed for another patient”.
Luckily her surgeon made an unexpected visit to the ward, strongy vetoed any removal – and kept her in for another five days. But this sort of bullying leaves a nasty taste.
So will ‘lessons be learnt’? Or is this just another NHS mantra that means nothing? Until the next scandal? There have been far too many recently.