Shipman, Mid Staffordshire, Morecambe Bay, and now Ian Paterson, the breast surgeon that performed botched and unnecessary operations on hundreds of women. The list of NHS-related scandals has got longer. It's tempting to say the health service has not learned lessons even after a string of revelations and reviews. But is that fair? asks BBC Health Editor Hugh Pym.
The inquiry, chaired by Bishop Graham James, makes clear there were failings at every level of a dysfunctional health system when it came to patient safety.
The public and private health systems did not compare notes about suspicious behaviour by a consultant. Staff working with Paterson thought that his surgical methods were unusual but, perhaps cowed by being ignored after raising concerns, kept their heads down. Add to that the power and status of a surgeon in the medical world and, in the words of the report, Paterson was "hiding in plain sight".
So could it happen again?
James says it's clearly impossible to eliminate the activities of determined criminals in any profession. He acknowledges that some improvements have been made on policing. But he says that a decade on from the Paterson scandal, he is not convinced that medical regulators, with a combined budget of half a billion pounds a year, are doing enough collectively or collaboratively to make the system safe for patients.
The review chair notes tellingly that while regulators spoke of major improvements which should identify another Paterson, some doctors and nurses had told the inquiry that it was "entirely possible that something similar could happen now".
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Source: BBC News, 4 February 2020