Lynne Hall is the medical law solicitor at Burnetts advising on the Cumberland Infirmary / West Cumberland Infirmary breast cancer cases.
Burnetts has been instructed by 10 of the 16 women identified by the North Cumbria University Hospitals Trust in the review of July 2010 as being misdiagnosed, who were referred to in the Serious Untoward Incident report of Professor Ashton published in November 2010. One of the 10 women made an early decision not to pursue a legal claim.
In two of these 10 cases, the Trust has recently given notice that they will defend the claims and are no longer accepting that these women were wrongly given the all clear.
Lynne said ,“Whilst it is disappointing that the Trust has now confirmed their intention to defend in these two cases, it does not affect how we will be conducting our investigation of these cases. Clearly this turn of events has angered the ladies involved who were originally identified as misdiagnosed and I am sure this will have caused them additional distress. As in any other case, I’ll be influenced by the opinion of our independent medical experts, rather than a Trust’s readiness to fight.”
Burnetts is investigating whether the treatment the women received from the screening service was substandard and whether the delay in diagnosis has affected their cancer treatment and prognosis, as well as investigating what the psychological impact delay in diagnosis and the review in 2010 has had on them.
The investigation Burnetts is conducting involves obtaining an expert opinion from an independent Consultant Radiologist on the interpretation of the women’s mammograms and ultrasound examinations taken at the time of the screening, and whether further assessment was indicated but not carried out.
Expert opinion has also been sought on the effect of the delay in diagnosis. Some of the women met with an independent breast cancer expert in May. Others are due to be seen during July and September at clinics being held in the Newcastle area.
In some cases, Burnetts is also arranging to obtain further reports to advise on prognosis, and to look at the psychological impact the delay in diagnosis has had on each of the women.
In total, Burnetts is currently investigating 19 claims of negligence related to breast cancer diagnosis at West Cumberland Hospital and the Cumberland Infirmary. Some of the claims relate to diagnoses in 2011 when Newcastle Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust took over the breast screening services at both hospitals.
Women with concerns can contact Lynne Hall on 01228 552222 or by email firstname.lastname@example.org . A free helpsheet is available at http://www.burnetts.co.uk/publications/factsheets/breast-cancer-in-cumbria.