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NHS Trust Report Finds Delayed Cancer Diagnosis Contributed To Woman’s Death

Sister Speaking Out For Cervical Cancer Prevention Week


James Clarke, Press Officer | +44 (0)161 838 3169

The sister of a Thirsk woman, who died following a delay of almost two years in being diagnosed with cervical cancer, is speaking out on Cervical Cancer Prevention Week to help raise awareness of the disease.

Cervical Cancer Prevention Week is an initiative of Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust and is widely supported by health bodies across the country. The aim is to increase awareness of the disease and work towards its prevention.

Nicky Jetson-Shepherd died aged 52 in August 2017, seventeen months after being diagnosed with cervical cancer. Nicky had originally noticed her symptoms, which included lower abdominal pain and vaginal bleeding, in May 2013.

Although suffering from red flag symptoms for almost two years, and having regular appointments with her GP and gynaecology service throughout those two years, Nicky was not diagnosed with cervical cancer until April 2016.

The South Tees NHS Foundation Trust has conducted an internal investigation, which highlighted numerous failings in the care afforded to Nicky. As a result of Nicky’s death, the Trust has also amended its policies to ensure a case like Nicky’s never occurs again. 

Sandra Bates, Nicky’s sister, who is now pursuing legal action against the NHS Trust after instructing specialist medical negligence lawyers at Irwin Mitchell, is speaking out about her sister’s death to help raise awareness of the symptoms of cervical cancer.

Sandra, 64, said: “Nicky’s death was devastating for the entire family including her mother, Jene, who is 87, her sister Shirley and her partner Dan and we all continue to miss her dearly. It was heartbreaking to see her health deteriorate following her diagnosis knowing that it could, and perhaps should, have been diagnosed much earlier.

“It is painful knowing she was aware of her symptoms and sought out medical attention. She did all the right things. Sadly, she was let down when she needed help the most. We want to ensure that the lessons are thoroughly learnt from her death.

“We are speaking out about her death for Cervical Cancer Prevention Week to help raise awareness of this awful disease and hopefully to try and ensure no family has to suffer like ours has.”

From May 2013, the point when Nicky first noticed her symptoms, she sought treatment from her GP and the Friarage Hospital in Northallerton. Despite often pushing for further investigations into her symptoms, Nicky was repeatedly told that they were either related to early menopause, Hormone Replacement Therapy or fibroids.

A Root Cause Analysis Investigation Report carried out by the NHS Trust found the root cause to be a lack of recognition of the importance of Nicky’s physical symptoms. One of the recommendations of the report was to develop local practice guidelines to investigate and manage patients with cases similar to Nicky’s.

Rebecca Tramaseur, the medical negligence specialist representing Sandra, sad: “Unfortunately we have seen incidents like this numerous times in our work, where a patient, like Nicky, has been let down by medical staff.

“We obviously welcome the NHS Trust’s internal investigation reaction since Nicky’s death and are happy to see them recognise there were issues in the care that Nicky was given. It is now important that the lessons that have been highlighted are learned and plans put in place to ensure a similar tragedy is prevented. At present the claim is still being investigated.”

The theme of this year’s Cervical Cancer Prevention Week is “Reduce your risk.” The message is that cervical cancer can be prevented. The week aims to raise awareness of how women can reduce their risk of the disease and the steps they can take to look after their health.

Rebecca added: “Sadly, two lives are lost to cervical cancer every day, with nine women being diagnosed with the disease daily. That is why we are proud to support Cervical Cancer Awareness Week and raise awareness of the disease, and of the fact that 75% of cervical cancers can be prevented by smear test.”

You can find out more about Cervical Cancer Prevention Week by visiting https://www.jostrust.org.uk/get-involved/campaign/cervical-cancer-prevention-week-2018

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