Around 750 private patients treated by disgraced breast surgeon Ian Paterson will receive compensation from a new £37 million fund.
Spire Healthcare, which runs private hospitals across the UK, will contribute £27.2 million to the fund, which is intended to halt legal proceedings by patients against the group and account for any new claims.
Around £10 million will be provided by co-defendants in the case including Paterson’s insurers.
Paterson was jailed for 20 years after he was found guilty in April at Nottingham Crown Court of 17 counts of wounding with intent.
Jurors also convicted him of three further wounding charges.
More than 500 of Paterson’s private patients had been due to take their case to the High Court next month.
In its statement, Spire said the agreement was conditional on all parties agreeing, and the court approving, the terms of a formal court order.
It said the order “will conclude all current and known claims from patients against Spire Healthcare and its co-defendants, Ian Paterson and Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust”.
“The order will also provide for a portion of the fund to be set aside to provide compensation for any former patient of Mr Paterson who has not yet brought a legitimate claim against Spire Healthcare and the other defendants but does so prior to 30 October 2018.”
The agreement has been made in conjunction with Paterson’s insurers.
Simon Gordon, interim chief executive at Spire, said: “Earlier this year a criminal court decided that Ian Paterson must bear responsibility for his actions, finding him guilty of assaulting a number of his patients.
“He behaved with clear criminal intent and abused the trust of those who looked to him for his care and relied upon his expertise.
“However, whilst nothing diminishes Mr Paterson’s responsibility for his actions, these events took place in our hospitals, and this should not have happened.
“We accept that better clinical governance in the private hospitals where Mr Paterson practised, as well as in his NHS trust, might have led to action being taken sooner, and it is right that we have made a material contribution to the settlement announced today.
“We have apologised unreservedly to Mr Paterson’s patients for their suffering and distress and we would like to repeat that apology.
“As soon as the criminal trial ended we were able to start liaising with claimants’ lawyers to broker a settlement involving all defendants. This has resulted in the agreement announced today.”
Emma Doughty, a specialist medical negligence lawyer from Slater and Gordon, which represents more than 100 of Paterson’s victims, said: “No financial settlement will ever heal the physical and mental scars inflicted on our clients but they are relieved that they have finally won their battle for justice.
“Even when Paterson was charged and then convicted earlier this year, Spire refused to countenance that they were responsible for his actions, despite his crimes taking place in their hospitals.
“As a result, his victims have faced a long wait not knowing whether they would be compensated for the pain he caused them.
“We are pleased that Spire has finally agreed to settle these cases and importantly, we hope this settlement will send a message to other private healthcare providers that patient safety must be their priority.
“It is now crucial that all of the weaknesses in the private sector management, which allowed Paterson to do what he did for so long, are addressed and overhauled to reassure the public that something like this can never happen again.”
During the trial, it emerged that Paterson, who treated thousands of patients during his career, exaggerated or invented cancer risks and claimed payments for more expensive procedures.
He also carried out hundreds of unnecessary operations on NHS patients.
The NHS has so far paid more than £17 million in compensation for victims.
Figures from NHS Resolution show that as of July 31, it had received 277 claims involving Paterson’s NHS practice and paid a total of £17,411,639 on those cases.