Suspected Cancer Diagnosis Delays Admitted as NHS Trust Apologises

11 February 2014

Suspected Cancer Diagnosis Delays Admitted as NHS Trust Apologises

West Hertfordshire NHS Trust has admitted mistakes may have led to the death of at least one patient as well as for delays in diagnosing cancer for over 800 other patients. The trust has admitted an administrative error resulted in more than 800 patients suspected of having cancer being provided with delays to their diagnosis. It has been admitted that at least one person may have died as a result of the mistakes and 121 patients still are awaiting review of their cancer diagnosis cases.

The time period in question related to January 2010 and November 2013 when those patients who after being urgently referred for cancer tests but who failed to turn up were not given a second appointment. IN some cases, in direct contravention of NHS guidelines, they were simply discharged with further tests, investigation and cancer diagnosis pending.

810 patients were contacted by the trust in order to review their cases with 686 of them told that there were no clinical concerns over their care. However the trust did admit that the delay in seeing one patient may have helped contribute to their death. An apology has been made to the family of the patient.

It was only after the launch of a new management team in November that the trust identified the error. The trust is comprised of Hemel Hempstead Hospital, Watford General hospital and St Albans City hospital.

Mistreatment.com received a number of enquiries from members of the public about their experience in the above trusts and who required advice about their patient rights after speaking to our specialist cancer teams.

Samantha Jones, the chief executive of the trust, said: "It is absolutely clear that the trust was not always following the correct administrative processes for these patients and we let them down.

"These concerns date back a number of years and were identified as part of the new management team's commitment to improve the way we administer and manage patient care.

"I would like to apologise to each and every patient who has been affected and particularly to the relatives of those who have since died.

"We have of course made significant changes to help prevent this ever happening again and will share the outcome of our investigations with those affected and with the wider public."

Since the findings, the trust says it is using a new IT system, has retrained staff and importantly now holds reviews on a daily basis of all patients who miss cancer appointments.

Hemel Hempstead Conservative MP Mike Penning said: "I am shocked to learn that Hemel Hempstead cancer patients have been allowed to slip through the net due to the incorrect use of procedures. They have been badly let down and it is very upsetting.

"A national review is needed to make sure that the problem is not being repeated elsewhere and that no more patients are let down in this way.

"I commend current chief executive Samantha Jones and her team for discovering the problem and facing it head on to ensure that no more patients suffer the same break-down in their care."

The trust said it was "confident" it had contacted everyone affected by the errors. If you or a loved one attended any of the above hospitals or trusts and would like further information you can speak to a member of our specialist cancer teams through our information line on 0800 222 9800.

Mistreatment.com was created to listen to talk to people who feel that they had nobody at the NHS to listen to them when something went wrong. Members of the public who call through to us often want to raise an issue within NHS care so that somebody else is not affected the way their and their loved ones have been. Sometimes they call through to us to make a medical negligence claim because a financial settlement is needed to rebuild their life and to take care of their family. If you have experienced a form of medical mistreatment through emergency services, A&E or through surgery, for example, you can speak to the experts at Mistreatment.com