Lawyers Call For Lessons To Be Learnt After Two-Year Delay In Cancer Diagnosis Led To Man’s Death

Family Speak Out After Dad-Of-Two Died After Bowel Cancer Surgery

19.08.2013

By Suzanne Rutter

The family of a man who died after his GP failed to spot he was suffering from bowel cancer and did not refer him for treatment for two years, have joined expert medical negligence lawyers to call for lessons to be learnt following the settlement of their case.

Francis Wilson, from Pontefract, died in 2008 following complications he suffered after surgery carried out at Dewsbury District Hospital, which is run by the Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust.

Francis’ wife Elsie and sons David and John instructed expert medical lawyers at Irwin Mitchell in their battle for answers from both the GP and hospital regarding his treatment and how he died.

The law firm’s investigations found there was a two-year delay in his GP, Dr John Taylor of the Stuart Road Surgery in Pontefract, referring Francis for investigations, despite the 79-year-old showing warning signs he was suffering from bowel cancer.

He was finally diagnosed with the disease in July 2007 and he underwent keyhole surgery on 23 August 2007.

In the lead up to the operation, Francis and his wife Elsie were advised it was a straightforward procedure and he would be able to return home a few days later. However, during the operation carried out by Dr Abdul Basheer, Francis’ ureter was damaged and it took several weeks for doctors to notice that urine was leaking into his abdomen.

Francis eventually returned home in October 2007 after the operation, having had a temporary stoma fitted and undergoing several procedures to deal with the urinary leak. He returned to hospital in February 2008 for a reversal of the temporary stoma, but complications following this operation led to his death.

At an inquest into Francis’ death in July 2010 Professor Marks, then Deputy Coroner at Bradford Coroner’s Court, recorded a narrative verdict explaining that Francis would have lived longer had Mr Basheer carried out a different initial operation in 2007.

In two separate medical negligence cases brought by Irwin Mitchell, the Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust accepted that Mr Wilson’s urinary leak should have been noted earlier; while Dr Taylor conceded Francis should have been referred for investigations which would have diagnosed his bowel cancer in 2005.

Heather Kolar, a specialist medical lawyer at Irwin Mitchell, who negotiated an undisclosed settlement with both the NHS Trust and the GP on behalf of the family, said the case was about providing answers to improve treatment in future.

Heather said: “The whole family has been absolutely devastated by Francis’ death, particularly as the pain and suffering he endured as a result of the delays in diagnosing the cancer and urinary leak could have been prevented.

“Had his cancer been diagnosed in 2005 when he was first presented with symptoms, he would almost certainly have avoided the complications in 2007 and 2008 and he would not have died when he did. A speedier diagnosis could also have prevented him having to endure the stoma which he found so difficult to manage.

“Patient safety should be a number one priority for the NHS and patients put their faith in doctors to recognise key signs and symptoms promptly. Bowel cancer is the third most common type of cancer in England and if caught early, there is a 90 per cent chance the patient will survive the next five years.

“Sadly, in this case, that did not happen and we hope the GP and hospital trust have learnt valuable lessons from Francis’ tragic death.”

Francis’ son David Wilson, of Pontefract, said: "I am very angry about the circumstances of my dad’s death. His own GP missed the opportunity to identify the cancer two years earlier and the injury to his ureter during one of several subsequent operations at Dewsbury hospital just added to his suffering.

“This should never have happened and I hope that both the doctor and surgeon involved would act differently in any similar situation in the future, so that cancer patients don’t suffer like my dad did and other families don’t have to lose their loved ones earlier than necessary.

“It’s been difficult hearing about all the circumstances that led to dad’s death but we now have all the answers and a sense of justice for what dad went through. Hopefully we can now begin to move on with our lives.”

Read more about Irwin Mitchell's expertise in relation to Medical Negligence claims