Defence bodies ‘pay for negligence – not crime’

Medical Defence Union chief executive Dr Christine Tomkins has responded to the Paterson Inquiry report, emphasising that the rogue surgeons was not negligent – ‘He is a criminal’.

Dr Christine Tomkins

She said: ‘As Mr Justice Baker made clear when sentencing Paterson, his actions were not negligent or even reckless. He deliberately and permanently harmed his patients for his own selfish, criminal purposes. What he did was not necessary for the patients’ health. In the words of the judge, it was “the antithesis of the Hippocratic oath”.’ 

‘Paterson wasn’t negligent. He is a criminal. As the Inquiry identified, the root cause of these very distressing events was: “Checks and balances designed to ensure safety of care at the hospitals where Paterson practised were inadequate or were not followed, and this allowed him to continue with unsafe and unnecessary treatment which harmed patients”.’

Dr Tomkins said it was always the case that the requirement that doctors have professional indemnity is intended to provide compensation for negligence. The MDU, along with all those indemnifying or insuring doctors, paid compensation to patients for negligence, not for crime.

‘As a matter of law and for very good public interest reasons, no criminal should be protected from the financial consequences of their deliberate criminal acts. This is not a shortcoming with discretionary indemnity and nothing to do with financial regulation. Insurance policies – regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority – also exclude deliberate criminal acts. 

‘The Inquiry recommends a nationwide safety net to ensure patients are not disadvantaged. The state already provides the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme and court-ordered Criminal Compensation Orders. If there is to be a further compensation fund for the benefit of victims, it would most appropriately be a statutory fund supported by the Government.’