An NHS whistleblower whose evidence helped put Butcher surgeon Ian Patterson behind bars has revealed he was threatened with dismissal for daring to question the reckless treatment of women whose lives were ultimately ruined.
Patterson misdiagnosed cancer in healthy patients and underwent unnecessary and harmful procedures, including an unregulated “cleavage-sparing” mastectomy. He was convicted of 17 counts of intentional assault and sentenced to 20 years in prison in 2017.
Breast surgeon Hemant Ingle has now spoken for the first time about his fight to uncover one of the UK’s biggest medical scandals, telling the Daily Mail on Sunday that he first tried to challenge Patterson for a full 10 years , and then ended up in jail in 2017.
Ingle, who was a junior consultant at the time, was concerned that the senior doctor would leave breast tissue at risk by putting patients at risk with inappropriate reconstructive surgery and partial mastectomy. Some patients later died.
“He [Patterson] would drive through the [hospital] meeting and say the treatment will be like This. But many times I felt he was unnecessarily advising patients for reconstructive surgery. We fought at almost every meeting.”
Ingle’s suspicions were confirmed when Patterson asked him to perform breast reconstruction surgery on one of his patients while on vacation — even though her medical records showed she had no signs of cancer.
“I was shocked that there was absolutely no precancer,” he said. “I was really sad and scared – Patterson was mad because I caught him. That’s when my tentacles went up and I said, ‘This guy can really do anything. “
He now believes Patterson was motivated by sheer greed, with some reports suggesting he earns £100,000 a year from the lawsuit on top of his £100,000 NHS salary.
Ingle, assisted by two colleagues, wrote eight letters to senior NHS managers in 2007, alerting them to his concerns and Patterson’s bullying of colleagues. These include allegations that Patterson threatened to fire him if his complaints continued.
His repeated warnings led to an internal investigation that found Patterson performed an incomplete mastectomy, putting the patient at greater risk of cancer recurrence and recommending inappropriate breast reconstruction.
But there was little response to it.
After a brief period of supervision, Patterson was allowed to continue performing breast and general surgery on the NHS and a private hospital until he was suspended from the NHS and private practice in 2011.
By then, he had performed more than 1,000 botched or unnecessary surgeries, including on children [under 18]. By 2017, more than half of his mastectomy patients had died.