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Season 2: EP 008: Empowering Voices: Ian Paterson Survivor’s Battle and Triumph

25 January 2024


  • Patient Safety
  • Season Two

Join us on this episode of What the HealthTech? as Sarah Jane Downing, a survivor of breast surgeon Ian Paterson’s betrayal, shares her inspiring journey of resilience and the creation of a support group that continues to empower and heal its members four years after Paterson’s conviction.

Listen to the full podcast ⬇️

🎙️ Episode Overview

Justine Abson, Head of Marketing at Radar Healthcare, engages in a compelling conversation with Sarah Jane Downing, a resilient survivor who transformed adversity into strength following the betrayal of breast surgeon Ian Paterson.

Sarah Jane shares her personal journey, from discovering shocking anomalies in her medical records to setting up a support group for fellow survivors. Her story highlights the critical need for systemic changes to prevent such medical misconduct from recurring.

The Shock and Aftermath

Receiving the news was devastating. Sarah Jane describes the intense fear and betrayal she felt, realising that the surgery she underwent was entirely unnecessary. This revelation propelled her to connect with other victims and establish a support group in 2015.

Support and Advocacy

The support group has been instrumental in providing a safe space for survivors to share their experiences and support each other. It also became a platform for collective advocacy, pushing for systemic changes to ensure patient safety and prevent similar incidents in the future.

Working with the Department of Health

Since 2020, Sarah Jane has collaborated with the Department of Health to implement recommendations from the Bishop’s Inquiry. While progress has been made, there is still a long way to go to ensure comprehensive changes are implemented across the healthcare sector.

🔍 Key Issues Highlighted

🚨 Rapid diagnoses and pressure: Paterson exploited waiting lists and patient fears to rush them into unnecessary surgeries, emphasising the need for patients to have time to seek second opinions and make informed decisions.

📡 Communication failures: A significant issue was the lack of communication between private healthcare providers and the NHS, which allowed Paterson to avoid scrutiny.

📄 Transparency and record keeping: There is a need for better transparency in medical qualifications and the sharing of disciplinary records. Patients should have access to complete information about their healthcare providers’ qualifications and any pending investigations.

💬 Open communication among medical staff: Encouraging a culture where junior medical staff feel empowered to speak up about concerns without fear of retribution is crucial.

Justine and Sarah Jane Downing on What the HealthTech

🌟 A Vision for the Future

Sarah Jane envisions a future where every patient receives appropriate care at the right time by qualified professionals. The changes she advocates for include:

🔗 Improved communication: Ensuring seamless information sharing between NHS and private healthcare providers.

🛡️ Patient safety: Implementing robust systems to prevent unnecessary surgeries and ensure all procedures are performed by adequately qualified surgeons.

👥 Multidisciplinary teams: Utilising multidisciplinary teams effectively within private healthcare to provide comprehensive care and scrutiny.

🔓 Freedom to Speak Up: Strengthening the role and effectiveness of Freedom to Speak Up guardians to support junior staff in raising concerns.

🔊 Tune In

Listen to the full episode to hear more about Sarah Jane’s journey and the vital steps needed to improve patient safety in healthcare. Join us in advocating for a safer, more transparent healthcare system.

To connect with Sarah Jane, reach out via saraj9downing@gmail.com or find her on LinkedIn.

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Interested in being a guest on What the HealthTech? Let’s talk! Pop us an email at marketing@radarhealthcare.com

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