Bishop of Norwich to chair national care inquiry
The Government has today announced that the Rt Revd Graham James, Bishop of Norwich, will chair an independent Non-Statutory Inquiry into the malpractice of convicted surgeon Ian Paterson.
The Inquiry aims to learn lessons from this case and how this can improve care locally and by the independent healthcare sector across the country.
Paterson – a consultant breast surgeon who was employed by the Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust (HEFT) and had practising privileges in the independent sector at Spire Parkway and Spire Little Aston – was found guilty in April this year of 17 counts of wounding patients with intent. He was sentenced to jail for 20 years.
Speaking about the role, Bishop Graham said: "It is a daunting honour to be asked to chair the Paterson Inquiry, details of which are published in a Written Ministerial Statement today in Parliament.
“The pastoral and moral imperatives are clear, and I will do my very best to meet the expectations placed upon me. I consulted the Archbishop of Canterbury before accepting the invitation and he was emphatic that I should do so. While I do not intend this responsibility to affect my commitment to my work here we are fortunate to have an excellent Bishop's staff team and they are warmly supportive too. Please keep me and all those involved in the Inquiry in your prayers."
The Inquiry follows a pledge by Health Secretary Philip Dunne earlier in the year in which he committed to hold a 'comprehensive and focused inquiry'. Following this, and his meeting with the victims of Paterson and their families, the initial scope of the investigation has been widened in recognition of their feedback that broader issues about care in the independent sector needed attention. This includes whether any further action is needed to strengthen the Care Quality Commission's inspection regime in relation to the private sector.
Bishop Graham said: "The actions of Ian Paterson and the grievous harm he inflicted on patients are deeply concerning, and they have given rise to some serious questions which remain unanswered.
“It is vital that the Inquiry be informed by the concerns of former patients of Ian Paterson and their representatives. The interests of all patients, whether they seek treatment in the NHS or the private sector, should be at the heart of this Inquiry and I will do my very best in the interest of those affected and the public."
Philip Dunne, Health Minister, said: "Ian Paterson’s malpractice sent shockwaves across the health system due to the seriousness and extent of his crimes, and I am determined to make sure lessons are learnt from this so that it never happens again in the independent sector or the NHS.
"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 the victims of Paterson and their families, and is likely to consider:
the responsibility for the quality of care in the independent sector; appraisal and ensuring validation of staff in the independent sector and the safety of multi-disciplinary working;
information sharing, reporting of activity and raising concerns between the independent sector and the NHS;
and the role of insurers of independent sector healthcare providers (including how data it holds about the scope and volume of work carried out by doctors is shared with the sector), and arrangements for medical indemnity cover for clinicians in the independent sector.The Inquiry will be formally established from January 2018, and its independence will mean its recommendations will be delivered quickly and it is expected to report in summer 2019.
Pictured above is Bishop Graham James.