Ian Paterson, a breast surgeon found guilty of 17 counts of wounding with intent after carrying out unnecessary operations on patients, may be sued by hundreds of victims according to a legal firm. Thompsons Solicitors said they were bringing a High Court case against Paterson as well as Spire Hospitals and the Heart of England Foundation Trust on behalf of 350 women.

Paterson was convicted at Nottingham Crown Court on Friday after a seven-week trial heard the accounts of 10 of his victims, including one man. Though Paterson would have treated thousands of patients over the course of his career.

Linda Millband, from Thompsons Solicitors, told the BBC: "There are an enormous number of people who have suffered through having the incorrect diagnosis and have had totally erroneous treatment, and there are others who have been over-treated.

"Our case is not only against Mr Paterson, it is also against Spire Hospitals and the Heart of England Foundation Trust – and our allegations are that neither of the hospital authorities took the necessary steps to protect our victims and clients."

During the investigation of Paterson, it transpired that concerns around the surgeon's practices had been flagged on a number of occasions. In 1996 he was suspended by a previous employer, returning to practice for the NHS two years later. Further concerns were raised in an internal report on his conduct in 2004, and yet he practised until 2011 before being suspended by regulator the General Medical Council the following year.

Emma Doughty, clinical negligence solicitor for Slater and Gordon, said at this stage it was hard to know how many victims there could be, saying it was on "a huge scale".

"Although we have seen hundreds of claimants, God knows how many this actually affects," she said. "There are hundreds if not thousands of claimants [between various law firms] and then we have got to think about people who haven't come forward, people who have died and so on."

The trial heard that Paterson carried out extensive and life-changing operations, such as mastectomies, for no medically justifiable reason after exaggerating or lying to patients about the risk of breast cancer.

Paterson, of Altrincham, Greater Manchester, was found guilty of 17 counts of wounding with intent and a further three of unlawful wounding. He faces sentencing in May.

One of the operations Paterson was said to routinely perform was a "cleavage-sparing mastectomy" which left breast tissue on the patient for cosmetic purposes but left them at greater risk of developing secondary cancer.

Speaking after Paterson's conviction on Friday (28 April), Chief Supt Mark Payne said: "Paterson was a controlling bully, who played God with people's lives so he could live a luxurious lifestyle."

surgery generic
The true number of Ian Paterson's victims is still unknown. Getty