Cancer affects 1 in 3 people, and is the UK’s number one killer, now above heart disease. Those suspected with cancer are to be treated as a medical urgency, which is why the health trust of West Hertfordshire hospitals is now facing major scrutiny, as reports reveal it discharged or gave out non-urgent appointments to 810 potential cancer patients.
The reason behind this was because they had missed appointments, however this could possibly have been because they had not received appointment letters. An independent investigation that has now been launched has found that at least 1 of these patients has died, and 100 have encountered life-threatening delays.
The normal procedure in this circumstance would be to contact the patient immediately, or send them another appointment in no more than two weeks time. Nearly one year later, after an internal investigation was launched in 2013, and a complaint raised by a GP in 2012, action is finally taking place to address the problem.
The 2013 investigation acknowledged there had been prominent issues and mistakes made, and committed to resolve them. However it was only after a later training session when the scale of the error became apparent that an independent investigation was triggered. The GP’s complaint was reviewed again during the process.
The GP stated that his complaint was not followed up in 2012 because there were no ‘appropriate systems’ to deal with complaints, and there was also a lack of continuity in leadership which meant there was confusion as to who was in charge.
Samantha Jones, current chief exec, has stated that there is now a comprehensive cancer improvement plan in place to make sure no error like this ever occurs again. She also sent her apologies to families and victims, saying that they continued to work towards improvement and that the findings of the report had now been published so they could be shared with the local community.
If you have fallen victim to medical negligence, contact us now for advice on a claim. No mistake, big or small, can excuse putting life in danger.