Loving Mum Died Of Cancer After Hospital Staff Failed To Provide Scan To Diagnose Disease

Expert Layers Call On NHS Trust To Confirm Improvements Have Been Made


The daughter of a mum-of-four who died of cancer which went undetected by doctors for months has slammed the NHS Trust responsible and says her mum was ‘robbed of any chances of survival’.

Lynn Rees, from Kingswood in Bristol, died in February 2011 of Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, just weeks after being diagnosed with the disease despite having been an in-patient at Bristol’s Frenchay Hospital for seven months.

Devastated by her loss, the 56-year-old’s daughter Casey Richards instructed specialist medical negligence lawyers at Irwin Mitchell to investigate whether more could have been done to diagnose and treat her mum sooner. Expert evidence commissioned by the leading law firm found that North Bristol NHS Trust failed to:
• Perform a CT scan in September 2010 as recommended by a radiologist after an X-Ray showed a widening in the chest area that could be due to enlarged lymph nodes;
• Consider Lynn’s symptoms of drenching night sweats, weight loss and fever as being linked to Hodgkin’s Lymphoma;
• Begin treatment of Lynn’s Hodgkin’s Lymphoma by the end of September 2010.

However, the Trust gave no response to the legal action leaving Irwin Mitchell with no choice but to issue court proceedings in a bid to get the family the answers and accountability they sought. 

Now, Casey is speaking out for the first time after North Bristol NHS Trust eventually agreed to pay an undisclosed out-of-court settlement and make an official apology. This followed an admission of breach of duty from the Trust that it failed to follow up on an X-ray which was indicative of a tumour by sending Lynn for a CT scan. The Trust made no admissions as to how this affected Lynn’s prognosis.

Natalie Jones is a medical law expert from Irwin Mitchell’s Bristol office representing the family. 

Lynn, who was a grandmother-of-nine, was admitted to Frenchay Hospital as an in-patient in July 2010 after suffering jaundice, vomiting, night sweats and weight loss but no diagnosis was made, despite various tests.

At the start of September an X-ray highlighted cause for concern but the recommended CT scan was not followed up. It was not until Lynn was referred to the liver unit at King’s College Hospital in London in December where medics took a lymph node biopsy and she was finally diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. Unfortunately by this point Lynn was too poorly for chemotherapy and she died on 16 February 2011.

Casey, 35, who runs a Hair & Beauty business in Bristol, added: “It was horrendous watching our mum suffer. We knew something was seriously wrong but the hospital staff seemed to have no idea how to get to the bottom of it.

“By the time she was finally given a diagnosis, it was too late as she was too poorly to undergo any treatment. We feel like she was robbed of any chance of survival as if she’d had the CT scan, she could have been given earlier treatment and may still be with us today.

“We have all been left devastated by mum’s death but what makes it even more difficult to come to terms with, is knowing that more could have been done to help her. 

“We were also very disappointed with the way the hospital trust dealt with our concerns. All we wanted was answers about what went wrong and accountability, but it took the formal court action from our legal team at Irwin Mitchell to get any response. This is not acceptable – when families lose a loved one suddenly they should by supported by the NHS and provided with information.

“We want to know that Mum’s death was not in vain but the Trust has offered no reassurance that improvements have been made to ensure vital diagnostic tests are properly considered and followed up. We don’t want anyone else to have to suffer like our mum did and want reassurance that steps have been taken to ensure similar mistakes can’t happen again.”

Read more about Irwin Mitchell's expertise relating to misdiagnosis claims