Woman And Lawyers Support Awareness Campaign After Hospital Trust Admits Breach Of Duty
A mum has spoken of her upset after a failure in reporting her abnormal smear test led to cervical cancer.
Rachael Foley was incorrectly told that the result of a routine screening programme test she underwent in 2014 was clear. However, there was evidence of pre-cancerous cells.
These were not picked up until three years later when the mum-of-one’s next test result was analysed.
Following tests Rachael, 43, of Cannock, Staffordshire, was diagnosed with cervical cancer. She underwent two procedures to remove cells as well as a hysterectomy.
Lawyers investigate cervical cancer diagnosis
Following her diagnosis Rachael, who is married to Mark, 49, instructed expert medical negligence lawyers at Irwin Mitchell to investigate whether more could have been done to prevent her cancer developing.
University Hospitals of North Midlands NHS Trust, which was responsible for analysing Rachael’s test results, admitted a breach of duty. The trust admitted that if the result of the previous smear in 2014 had been reported correctly, Rachael would have undergone earlier treatment to remove the cells, on the balance of probabilities she wouldn’t have developed cervical cancer and she wouldn’t have needed further surgery, including a hysterectomy.
Rachael and her legal team are now supporting Cervical Cancer Prevention Week. It comes after Irwin Mitchell secured Rachael an undisclosed settlement.
Expert Opinion“The last few years for Rachael, and trying to come to term with her cancer diagnosis, have been incredibly difficult not only for her but the rest of her family.
“The effects of what happened will stay with Rachael for a long time. Worrying issues have been identified in Rachael’s case and it’s important that lessons are learned to improve patient safety. However, it’s also vital that there’s not a loss of confidence in the screening programme and women continue to attend appointments.
“Early detection and treatment is key to beating cancer.” Mark Cawley - Senior Associate Solicitor
Cervical cancer - Rachael's story
Rachael, a transport manager, had undergone four routine tests as part of the screening programme between 2007 and 2014, all of which were classed as negative.
She attended a follow up smear in June 2017, which showed evidence of ‘high-grade’ abnormal cells. She underwent surgery to remove the cells. Following further tests, Rachael was diagnosed with cervical cancer the following month.
Rachael, who has an eight-year-old son, Lewis, with Mark, underwent a further procedure and a hysterectomy.
Following an audit of her care it was found that there were signs of pre-cancerous cells from Rachael’s test in 2014.
Mum's heartbreak at cervical cancer diagnosis
She said: “I had always attended routine smears and had no reason to think anything other than what the results said.
“To be told that my previous result was abnormal came as a shock; but then to be told I had cancer and go on to have a hysterectomy was absolutely devastating. It was something I definitely wasn’t prepared for.
“Before my diagnosis I had such a happy and fulfilling life but coming to terms with my diagnosis and what it meant, not only for me but also Mark and my family, was difficult.
“We’re blessed to have the most beautiful little boy in Lewis. We sometimes talked about having another child but it was something we hadn’t decided. Ultimately it felt like that decision was taken away from us because of something that could have been avoided which is heartbreaking.
Rachael shares story to support others
“I can’t thank Mark and my family enough for all the support they have given me over the past few years. Even though my results were misreported it’s vital that women attend regular smears. I just hope that by sharing my story I can help others and show that support is available.”
Find out more about Irwin Mitchell's expertise in supporting people and their families following a cancer diagnosis at our dedicated medical negligence section. Alternatively to speak to an expert contact us or call 0370 1500 100.
Cervical Cancer Prevention Week runs from 18-24 January. For more information visit www.jostrust.org.uk