NHS' mistake 'betrayed my wife' – widower
A WIDOWER has spoken for the first time of the "betrayal" his late wife suffered when the NHS failed to inform her she had been wrongly declared clear of cancer.
Reg Hill called for a full independent inquiry into allegations of misdiagnosis at Bristol hospitals during a meeting of councillors in the city yesterday.
The calls were backed by other health campaigners who have formed an action group in response to a review of pathology services commissioned by University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust in June 2009 following allegations of 26 cases of misdiagnosis.
Mr Hill's wife Jane Hopes, a senior manager at North Bristol NHS Trust, was among those cases. An abnormality was picked up in a routine mammogram in 2001 but a UHBristol pathologist said a tissue sample was benign. Two years later she was diagnosed with cancer.
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Mr Hill told the meeting of the joint health scrutiny committee that NBT pathologists had checked the results of her biopsy in 2001 and found curable pre-invasive breast cancer.
In November 2004 Mrs Hopes died of breast cancer. The first her family knew of the alleged misdiagnosis was last spring – a year into the inquiry.
"My late wife is a victim of misdiagnosis by a consultant histopathologist who still works at Bristol Royal Infirmary, managed by UHBristol," Mr Hill said.
"Jane was betrayed by her own colleagues because they did not tell her the truth, that she had been misdiagnosed, thereby depriving her of the opportunity to seek independent, professional advice when she was told that she had cancer that had spread."
The inquiry followed concerns raised by doctors at NBT whose patients had their tissue samples examined under microscopes at labs run by UHBristol.
Mr Hill also called for samples to be checked by two pathologists, as recommended by the inquiry, which he believes could have saved his wife.
The chief executive of NBT, Ruth Brunt, confirmed that when Mrs Hopes died there had been some discussion within the trust that her original biopsy may have been incorrectly diagnosed as benign, and was one of the specific cases considered as part of the review.
She said: "With the benefit of hindsight, the consultant caring for Mrs Hopes could have informed her that this discussion was taking place. The fact that this did not happen is extremely regrettable."
Chief executive of UHBristol, Robert Woolley, said: "It's essential that patients trust our service and know that they will receive safe and appropriate care and advice. We believe the findings of both the Independent Inquiry and the Care Quality Commission should give patients the reassurance they deserve."