Woman ‘condemned to death’ after doctors failed to spot cancer in time demands meeting with NHS Trust

By Staff 11 Min Read

Anne Shaw, 68, has called Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust “callous” for making it difficult to meet with her so they can discuss the mistakes in her care that have left her with terminal cancer

A woman with terminal cancer has called an NHS Trust “callous” and says they “condemned her to death” yet she has had to repeatedly ask to meet with senior staff.

Anne Shaw, 68, has been told that her cancer cannot be treated after doctors failed to see a golf-ball sized ovarian tumour from a scan in 2019, and by the time it was diagnosed in 2021 when it had spread to her bowel, there was nothing that could be done.

She underwent a colostomy and now lives with a stoma, which reduces what she can eat and do, while alongside her husband Louis, she is now facing a few months left to live. Yet if the cancer had been found earlier by medics at St James’ University Hospital, in Leeds, she may not have needed surgery with chemotherapy used to tackle the tumour.

And now Mrs Shaw, who has previously overcome cancer, says that she has so far been denied the chance to speak with bosses at Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust over what went wrong and put measures in place to try and avoid a repeat in the future.

Mrs Shaw told the Mail: “All I want is to sit down with someone and have a cup of tea and a chat about it all – but the fact the Trust has still not been in touch speaks volumes. It’s callous. I’m angry that they think they don’t have a responsibility to learn from other people and put those lessons into action. They condemned me to death and they haven’t got the decency to come forward and say: ‘OK, what can we do to make your life a bit easier?’.”

“I’m dying and I have a stoma because they did not take appropriate action at the right time. If they had identified the tumour on the first scan, I wouldn’t be where I am now. They [the Trust] have taken away my ability to look forward and plan my life. I have to take each few weeks as they come. They have taken so much from me and they don’t even have the decency to talk to me about it.”

In 2006, Anne, from Shadwell, was first diagnosed with breast cancer and underwent a lumpectomy and the removal of lymph nodes, followed by chemotherapy at St James’ Hospital. After the treatment she was given the all clear, but was later diagnosed with ovarian cancer. She underwent surgery to remove her ovaries and was once again diagnosed as cancer-free.

In 2019, Anne returned for scans at St James for scans. In February Anne told LeedsLive : “I had been really tired and worried the cancer had come back but was told I was fine. I found out two years later that the cancer was obvious on the second scan. If they’d have looked at my medical records, they must have known what they should have been looking for.”

Anne told of how in 2020 she was examined by a medic after complaining of worsening pain but she says she was assured the cancer had not returned. She said: “The registrar I saw had clearly not read my medical records. He felt my stomach area briefly and told me I was fine, despite what I was telling him. If he’d have known my history of cancer, he really should have given me a more thorough examination.”

She continued: “I’m a strong character and try to look forward not backwards. While I’m of course upset about the scans, it’s the appointment in 2020, where I was given the poorest of examinations, that really sticks in my throat. My life has been turned upside down, everything has changed, all because of these two missed opportunities to find out that my cancer has returned. The stoma is particularly hard to live with, it’s absolutely horrendous, the most horrible thing I could imagine.”

She has reportedly reached a six-figure sum settlement with the NHS Trust, having been represented by law firm Slater and Gordon. The clinical negligence specialist lawyer leading her case, John Lowther, said: “This is an absolutely shocking case of two opportunities to identify Anne’s cancer being missed – because of the failures to realise it had returned, she now has a much poorer quality of life and is understandably very distressed about living with a stoma.

“The past few years have been hugely difficult for Anne and Louis, and what should have been a happy retirement is now a living nightmare for them both. What happened in this case is absolutely unacceptable and action must be taken by St James’s University Hospital to ensure this is not repeated, and these very costly mistakes are not allowed to ruin the lives of other patients.

“Anne’s suggestion of a change in policy, scans looking to identify possible signs of recurrent cancer where that is actively suspected, are checked by two radiologists, including one who specialises in diagnosis of cancer, is a very logical one. We would support adoption of this, not just in this particular hospital but across the NHS, including where services are outsourced.”

He told the Mail that in February, Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust made a “public commitment to meet with Anne but has failed to follow through with this, particularly knowing that she is terminally ill”. He said: “On her behalf, I repeatedly asked the Trust’s legal representatives if a meeting could be arranged. They refused and told her to put her views in a letter. Anne wants to speak with senior figures in the Trust, not only so that she can explain the impact of their clinicians’ negligence on her life, but to expand upon her ideas for how such mistakes can be avoided in the future.”

Mrs Shaw is reported to have since been contacted by Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust this week so as to arrange a meeting in six weeks’ time. Dr Magnus Harrison, Chief Medical Officer for Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust told the Mirror: “We are deeply sorry for the delay in diagnosing Mrs Shaw’s cancer and the impact this had on her health.

“We should have been in contact sooner about her care and this is not the level of support that we aim to provide to our patients. I’ve now spoken with Anne to apologise for the delay in getting in touch and I’ve agreed a date to meet that is convenient with her, so that we can discuss this further and she can share ideas to limit the risk of this happening again.”

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