Hospitals apologise for woman’s terminal cancer diagnosis a week before she died

Two hospitals have apologised for not telling a woman she had terminal cancer until a week before she died.

Beverley Smith, 63, from Truro, Cornwall, died in July last year – days after being told she had cancer.

The results of a biopsy taken at Derriford Hospital in Plymouth in March were not shared with her, or with medics treating her at the Royal Cornwall Hospital in Truro.

In a joint statement, the University Hospitals Plymouth NHS Trust and Royal Cornwall Hospitals NHS Trust said: “We would like to sincerely apologise for the distress that Mrs Smith’s family have been caused and we send our condolences again to the family on the devastating loss of their mother.

“The clinical team met with the family in December and were provided with valuable feedback on both Mrs Smith’s and her son’s experiences.

“We are sorry that the care Mrs Smith received was below both her family and the trusts’ expectations.

“We know that communication can be a challenge with other health care providers and we are working together to ensure that we get this right every time for our patients.

“The actions taken at the meeting are being processed and we will liaise directly with the family but cannot comment further on individual patient cases.”

Mrs Smith used a wheelchair after she was paralysed from the chest down in a road accident in 1972.

Her son, Ben Smith, who was her full-time carer, told the BBC: “If we’d known she had cancer she could have come home for three months and we could have had that time together.

“She never had the opportunity to say the things she would like to have said to my boys, her grandsons.”

Mrs Smith had a bone biopsy taken during an operation on her hip at Derriford Hospital in March last year.

She continued to receive further treatment while a patient at the Royal Cornwall Hospital.

Only on July 11 were Mrs Smith’s family told about the cancer diagnosis and a CT scan six days later revealed her condition was terminal.

She went home on July 20 and died two days later.

Copyright (c) Press Association Ltd. 2019, All Rights Reserved. Picture (c) Ben Birchall / PA Wire.