West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust have released a statement regarding their investigations into their referral and care pathways for patients with suspected cancer.
The Trust launched an investigated in November 2013 after they found that patients referred to them with suspected cancer between January 2010 and November 2013 were not monitored in accordance with NHS guidelines. There were specific concerns about the monitoring for patients who had not attended their initial appointments. It was found that these patients had been discharged from care instead of being offered a further appointment as the NHS requires.
In their statement, the Trust admits that 810 patients have been contacted informing them that their treatment has been reviewed. Of these, 686 patients have already been advised that there are no concerns with their treatment. The remaining 121 patients were contacted about the findings of their review very recently.
The Trust have also admitted that patients suffered delays in their diagnosis and treatment. One patient was found to have suffered a delay in their diagnosis of cancer because the proper procedures were not followed. Another patient, who has since passed away, was found to have had a delay in being seen which ‘may have contributed to their death’.
These findings are very concerning and likely to be distressing for all patients who were referred to West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust for suspected cancer. Patients will understandably be worried about their treatment and will want to be reassured that their care was appropriate. It is clear that there have been major failures in the management and monitoring of patients. In these situations, it is vital that patients who think they may have been affected seek independent legal advice rather than relying on assurances provided by the Trust.