Mrs. Anne Y - Problems with obtaining
a genuine reassessment of her medical condition.
SIN has become alarmed
over the last few months at the deterioration of Anne's health and the
increasing levels of distress and frustration experienced by both she and
her husband at their inability to get her health concerns addressed. Anne
has given her permission to publicise her plight. Anne has given
thirty years of valuable nursing service to the NHS and rose to the highest
level, becoming a Nursing Practitioner.These are the more relevant facts:
Anne became ill three years ago with pain,obvious
bowel symptoms and severe weight loss (3 stones).She underwent a
series of tests at her local hospital and at a major one in London.
All were apparently negative. She subjected herself reluctantly to an hysterectomy
and removal of her ovaries on the understanding that these were thought
to be the cause of the problem. Unfortunately her intestinal symptoms
persisted and steadily worsened, and to make matters worse, she was told
that her ovaries had been healthy!! She was retired on health grounds.
Her husband and
neighbours, alarmed at the distension of her abdomen and the deterioration
of her health, wrote individually to the CHC about their concerns.
To see for yourself the cause of their concerns, click
here to view photographs of Anne taken before her illness three
years ago, and at June this year.
Mr & Mrs Y, in desperation, presented
themselves at the A & E Department at the local Hospital. Doctor on
duty, examining Anne, immediately ordered a set of tests. Mr & Mrs.
Y were shocked and humiliated when a radiologist informed them, in front
of the waiting patients, that he had no intention of carrying out these
Anne was referred to a second London hospital
in London for a complete reappraisal of her medical condition. In October
1999 a sympathetic consultation surgeon, said to them both that in his
opinion her condition could be a result of one of three options:
The surgeon referred her to a physician,
A non-obstructive intestinal cancer which
had been missed.
A "functional" diagnosis made by first
A psychological problem which he could
Mr & Mrs. Y were shocked to receive
a letter from this physician, dated 24th Nov. 1999, in which
the doctor made it clear that he was unlikely to agree to further tests,
even though he had neither met nor examined her. Anne felt unable
to accept the precondition of this consultation which could only go ahead
provided she agreed not to ask for further tests, since this was the
very purpose of the consultation.
In desperation, Mr. Y wrote to the Chief
Executive of this hospital pleading with him to intervene so that Anne
could be seen for a genuine re-appraisal with fresh tests.
Possibly in response to this letter, the
physician wrote to Anneís GP and suggested that it would be of benefit
to refer Anne to some other physician and include only a brief outline
of her previous tests.
The Chief Executive replied to Mr. Y stating
that he could not compel the physician to see his wife, (how then is a
patient to gain a second opinion?) **and suggested that Anne should contact
Anne was upset and astonished when her
GP suggested a referral to a psychiatrist!. It is important to note
that Anne has, under her own insistence, seen three psychiatrists.
Each one cleared her of having any mental problem, none prescribed medication
and each one urged her to see a physician since her symptoms indicated
a physical, medical condition.
Anne tried to obtain a consultation with
a surgeon, at a private hospital locally. She was assured that he would
see her, but wished to read her notes first. She was shocked to receive
a letter from the consultantís secretary stating that he
was refusing to see her and recommended that she took the advice in the
first consultantís letter, dated 14th February, 1997 to
be referred to the first London hospital. Anne had followed this
advice three years ago!
A few weeks ago Anne telephoned
in a very distressed state having had several bouts of diarrhoea and, feeling
faint, had contacted her GPís surgery for a home visit, but no one had
arrived.SIN, at Anneís request, telephoned the surgery and
found that Anne's GP was off duty.
SIN spoke to a female
colleague, who said she would attend to the matter and telephoned Anne
to assure her that she would be visited. Anne called again, very distressed,
to say that her own GP had told her that no doctor would visit her and
that she could not see any other GP in the surgery but himself. Other patients
at the Practice are allowed to see whichever GP they prefer!
Friday, 26th May, 2000 Anne
had an ultra-sound test arranged by her GP. The Radiographer was v. concerned
about the state of distension of Anneís abdomen. The test was negative,
but the radiographer said: " it would only show a large obstructive
cancer". Anne was told she urgently needed a series of tests. Her
GP admitted that he knew she did not have symptoms of an obstructive cancer
since she was not vomiting.
Week beginning 5th. June, Anne 'phoned
the second hospital and asked if she could be admitted. At Anne's request
SIN rang the hospital to emphasise the urgency of the situation..At 5pm
that evening SIN was contacted by the General Manager of the Critical Care
and Surgical Unit stating that Mrs. Wells would not be admitted.
Anne received a similar call. She asked for the refusal to be put
in writing - the letter finally arrived on 27th June, containing the advice
that Anne should go to the local hospital!
Anne and her husband called her GP out
one evening. Mr Y and Anne( in tears) pleaded with him to admit her to
hospital. The GP refused, although he admitted she had deteriorated, on
the grounds that she did not have an" acute abdomen " - meaning there was
no obstruction. The fact that she may have a non-obstructive cancer was
Anne wrote to the Secretary of State for
Health on 21st March 2000. The Regional Office was asked to investigate.
The Health Authority has done its investigation - without involving Anne,
the patient!! SIN considers such an investigation "null and void" .
has seriously deteriorated. Her symptoms have considerably worsened and
changed over the last eighteen months and she has received no specialist
care. She has a very distended abdomen and looks 6 months pregnant. She
is in a great deal of abdominal and back pain, for which she is on a high
level of pethidine., and has difficulty in walking. Her quality of life
is poor and she spends a great deal of her time resting in bed. She has
little sleep at night because of the constant pain. She has attacks of
feels nauseous and eats little. She is only 48 years old, feels desperately
ill. In desparation, friends of Anne have written to SIN asking for help.
here to see a letter recieved by SIN in June this year.
In spite of strenuous efforts
Mr & Mrs. Y have failed to obtain a genuine medical re-assessment of
her condition, based on fresh tests. She and her husband have tried
very hard to raise their concerns in all the appropriate places*. The recent
appalling case of Mr. Steve Harley, 41, from Barnsley reminds us that,
sadly for the patient, on occasions, cancers can be inexplicably missed.
He was seen on no fewer than 22 occasions, by 12 different doctors before
his extensive cancer was recognised and, incidentally, he had had several
investigative tests Ė all of which were apparently negative!
SIN believes that Anne
has not received the consideration and quality of care to which she is
entitled. She has been subjected to cruel and disgraceful neglect as her
cries for help have gone unheeded. Professional people do not go to these
lengths unless something is very seriously amiss. SIN has taken Anne's
case up with her MP, the HA, Regional Office NHSE and the Secretary of
State for Health.
** On 29th February at St.
Thomasí Hospital, London, on a BBC2 Newsnight programme, the Prime Minister
reminded doctors that clinical care for clinical need was MANDATORY!
here to hear Anne talking about her illness
here to see photographs of Annes condition before and after she became
here to read a letter to SIN from Anne's friend.