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Bowel Cancer Survivor Calls For Lessons To Be Learned After Enduring 16-Month Delay In Diagnosis Following Inappropriate investigations

Settlement For Leeds Man Speaking Out During Bowel Cancer Awareness Month

24.04.2019

Andrew Hewitt, Press Officer | 0114 274 4255

A Leeds man is campaigning to raise awareness of the signs of bowel cancer after the diagnosis of his disease was delayed by 16 months.

Peter Horsfield, who has a family history of bowel cancer, was enrolled on the national bowel screening programme for the disease, when he suffered a major rectal bleed at his Gledhow home in August 2015.

After attending accident and emergency at St James’s University Hospital, where he worked for 25 years as a clinical scientist, he was discharged and asked to arrange a follow-up with his GP.

The father-of-one requested further tests in the weeks afterwards, but when a limited sigmoidoscopy examination of his colon came back negative in November 2015 he accepted the outcome. Peter was not informed at the time that this particular test, which examines just the lower portion of the bowel, detects only about 60 per cent of bowel cancers.

However, Peter, 64, was then left stunned around 12 months later when his routine national bowel screening programme tests recorded an abnormal result. He was subsequently diagnosed with bowel cancer in December 2016 following a colonoscopy examination which examines the whole length of the bowel.

While Peter went on to have extensive treatment and make a good recovery, he instructed specialist medical negligence lawyers at Irwin Mitchell to investigate the standard of diagnostic care he received following presentation of his initial rectal bleed.

He has now joined his legal team at Irwin Mitchell in using Bowel Cancer Awareness Month to raise awareness of the symptoms of the disease and in calling for lessons to be learned.

It comes after Irwin Mitchell secured him a settlement and an admission of liability from Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, which runs St James’s, regarding the personal consequences of his delayed diagnosis.

Expert Opinion
“This is a hugely concerning case where Peter, who had a family history of bowel cancer, faced an unacceptable delay in the diagnosis of his cancer.

“While Peter has thankfully recovered as well as could be expected from his bowel cancer, it has had a significant impact on his life and he now faces many challenges.

“Bowel Cancer Awareness Month is an important time to reflect on the disease and the huge impact it has had on so many lives, but it is also an opportunity to recognise the importance of providing the right care and pivotally, that starts with early diagnosis.

“Whilst we are pleased that the hospital trust admitted liability early in the case, allowing Peter to try and focus on the future and his recovery, it is also vital that lessons are learned from his case to improve patient care. Therefore we welcome the assurances provided by the Hospital Trust that appropriate testing protocols are now in place.”
Tracy Tai, Solicitor

Find out more about Irwin Mitchell's expertise in handling medical negligence cases 

Peter is married to Jackie aged 57. They have a daughter, Jessica aged 22.

His mum, Elizabeth, died of bowel cancer aged 37, and Peter’s dad William died as a result of lung cancer, aged 59.

Following his diagnosis, Peter underwent surgery in January 2017 to remove about two-thirds  of his bowel. He then went on to have six cycles of chemotherapy.

Looking back on his experience, he said: “My unexpected rectal bleed back in August 2015 left me hugely worried, yet I simply placed faith and trust in the doctors that everything was well. To then be told months later that I had bowel cancer was a major shock. It was traumatic.

“Whilst I have made a recovery, the toll this whole ordeal has taken on me has been massive. I’ve been hugely reliant on my wife Jackie for support and I believe the toxic side effects of chemotherapy also led to an exacerbation in my existing symptoms of chronic tinnitus which is persistent and shows no signs of abating to previous levels.

“My mother died of bowel cancer at 37 so I knew it was something that could possibly go on to affect me, but the way this has unfolded has really been hard to accept.

“I just hope that speaking out will make a small contribution  to a general awareness of how dangerous bowel cancer can be and I would urge anyone who feels they may have any of the so called ‘red flag’ symptoms associated with bowel cancer to seek medical advice quickly, and if needs be, don’t take no for an answer.”