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27 September 2017, 18:09
A High Court judge has paid tribute to the bravery of hundreds of patients operated on by jailed Birmingham surgeon Ian Paterson.
Mrs Justice Whipple, who approved a £37 million compensation plan for victims treated by him in private hospitals, said: "He was their doctor, their surgeon, and they trusted him. He betrayed that trust.
"The physical pain and emotional anguish they have suffered in consequence cannot be understated. I pay tribute to their resilience in the face of such adversity."
She added: "The damages which the claimants will now receive from this settlement will not eradicate the wrong done to them.
"Nor, I suspect, can the claimants simply move on as if nothing had happened; the consequences of Mr Paterson's mistreatment will remain with them for years into the future.
"But I hope that the money they will receive under this settlement will go some way towards making their lives easier. I wish them all the very best."
Mrs Justice Whipple made her comments as she approved a settlement reached in a damages action brought on behalf of former private patients against a number of defendants, including Paterson, who carried out unnecessary breast operations, leaving victims scarred and disfigured.
The approval proceedings in London on Wednesday formally ended the litigation which was due to go to a lengthy trial next month.
Paterson, 59, from Altrincham, Greater Manchester, who is now serving a 20-year sentence, was convicted by a jury at Nottingham Crown Court of 17 counts of wounding with intent and three counts of unlawful wounding against 10 private patients.
News of the £37 million fund came earlier this month. It was announced that Spire Healthcare, which runs private hospitals in the West Midlands where Paterson worked, will contribute £27.2 million to the total.
A further £10 million is to be provided by Paterson's insurers and his former employers, the Heart of England NHS Trust (HEFT).
Around 750 private patients treated by Paterson will get a payout from the sum, which also makes provision for other claims.
The settlement was reached without any admission of liability by defendants Spire and the trust.
Lawyers for claimants said after the ruling that the settlement was "long overdue" after a five-year struggle by Paterson's private patients to win their "battle for justice".
Victim Rachel Butler said: "It is a relief that we will now receive some form of compensation for the hell we've been through.
"We now need to see a complete change in the private healthcare sector to make sure no-one ever has to wait this long for justice again."
Spire Healthcare said the approved court order "brings to a conclusion all current and known claims from patients against Spire Healthcare and its co-defendants, and will result in the establishment of the Ian Paterson (Liability to Private Patients) Compensation Fund which, in addition to providing compensation in relation to known claims, will be available to compensate any further patients who notify a claim prior to October 30 2018".
Paterson's trial heard from nine women and one man who were treated in the private sector at Little Aston and Parkway Hospitals in the West Midlands between 1997 and 2011.
Paterson's victims also included many NHS patients. The NHS has so far paid more than £17 million in compensation in relation to those claims.