Ian Paterson is accused of performing 'needless and unjustified' surgery on patients
Ian Paterson, who is accused of performing needless private operations on patients over a 14-year period in order to boost both his earnings and reputation, removed Judith Conduit’s breasts in two separate procedures after telling her she was suffering from an incredibly rare disease “for which there was no known cure”.
The 63-year-old, who in fact only had a series of benign fatty lumps, developed horrific complications following the surgery which resulted in her needing to visit hospital 94 times over the next 12 months, the court heard.
Paterson, who worked for the NHS and had a practice at two Spire Healthcare hospitals in the Birmingham area, denies 20 counts of wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm on nine female patients and one male between 1997 and 2011.
Mrs Conduit found a further lump and asked NHS doctors at Solihull hospital for a check-up
Mrs Conduit told Nottingham Crown Court she was referred to Paterson by her GP in May 2000 after finding a lump in her right breast.
I was told there was breast tissue left. I had believed for 10 years I did not have any left because I was assured by Mr Paterson he had removed it all
Judith Conduit – In court
She opted to have it removed but by the time she went back for a six-week check-up, more lumps had appeared, jurors heard.
The woman, who is the third of Paterson’s alleged victims to give evidence at his trial, said: “He suggested I may have Dercum’s syndrome, which he explained was a very, very rare condition, and in all his years as a surgeon I was only the third person he had ever diagnosed with it.
“He said there was no known cause and no known cure, and the other two ladies he had diagnosed had ended up having mastectomies.”
Ms Conduit developed horrific complications following Paterson's surgery
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She alleged Paterson then removed a lump in her right breast and confirmed she was suffering from the illness.
After further lumps appeared, Mrs Conduit said Paterson claimed he could not keep taking them out as he was removing too much breast tissue and the “only way forward was to have a bilateral mastectomy”.
She added: “I did not particularly want it but I was told it was the only way to control Dercum’s.”
The court heard Mrs Conduit, then 47, had her right breast removed by Paterson.
It was reconstructed at the same time by a plastic surgeon using tissue from a muscle in her back, jurors were told.
Two months later, in July 2001, the court was told she underwent identical surgery on her left breast.
But while the first procedure went smoothly, the second turned out to be “lengthy and difficult” after she suffered a blood clot and infection which left her skin “black and rotting”, she told the court.
Ian Paterson worked for the NHS and had a practice at two Spire Healthcare hospitals
Speaking about the huge number of subsequent appointments she added: “I know it was 94 because every time I went to hospital the bill went to my husband’s company and they would forward the bill to us to pay the excesses.”
In 2008, after allegations were first made against Paterson, Mrs Conduit found a further lump and asked NHS doctors at Solihull hospital for a check-up.
She told jurors: “I was told there was breast tissue left. I had believed for 10 years I did not have any left because I was assured by Mr Paterson he had removed it all and I could never, ever get breast cancer.”
Julian Christopher, prosecuting, earlier told the court: “Ian Paterson used the possibility of a diagnosis of Dercum’s disease to justify serious but unnecessary operations, and his lack of a good faith is demonstrated by the fact that, despite Dercum’s disease being such a rare phenomenon, he did not seek a second opinion before embarking on the radical treatment which he carried out.”
Paterson, of Altrincham, denied performing unnecessary surgery when interviewed by police, and said any suggestion he had done so in order to boost his earnings was “abhorrent.”
The trial continues.