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Posted on 9th March 2017

NHS blunders exposed by ITV

An ITV Tonight investigation has found that one preventable mistake is happening in the NHS in England and Wales every day.

The show, which aired this week, spoke to a woman who had wrongly been diagnosed with cancer and a father who died after a lump of gauze was left inside him.

This comes as the chief inspector of hospitals has warned that four out of five NHS trust need to improve on patient safety.

Lisa Brewer, 45, spoke to the show about her experience. Over a year ago Lisa found a lump on her breast. She had a mammogram and a series of other tests, which she was told looks “encouraging”.

Doctors took biopsies from the breast tissue to rule out cancer. Two weeks later she received a letter from her doctor.

 “I knew something was wrong, because I could just tell by her face. And she said, 'It’s not the news we were expecting but I am afraid you’ve got grade 2 cancer of the breast.'

“I remember thinking, I got ready today looking in the mirror putting my makeup on and I was fine and now I have got cancer”, said Lisa.

Lisa had parts of her breasts and lymph nodes removed, leaving her with permanent scarring.

However, a few weeks after the operation the Hospital contacted her to say there had been a massive error and that Lisa didn’t have cancer.

She recalled: “It’s weird I didn’t feel relieved, because you can’t just shut them emotions off like that straight away. Having to tell people that previously I had told I had cancer and tell them I don’t have it, I felt like a fraud in some way.”

The mix up meant another woman who was told she didn’t have cancer, when in fact she did.

The programme contacted her, but she didn’t want to be identified, but said: “I had to go through an additional, unnecessary, operation, but my breast cancer treatment was fortunately not delayed. I am now concentrating on my recovery.”

ITV Tonight revealed how “never-events” are at their highest in four years. Never-events are anything from surgery on the wrong part of the body, to medical items being left inside someone during a procedure.

Frank Hubbard had a successful prostate operation in 2001. During the operation, the surgical team left a large lump of gauze inside him by mistake, which stayed there for 12 years.

Despite having a scan in 2003, the gauze was not spotted until 2014, when it had calcified to the size of a small melon. Frank did a few months later.

Vince Hubbard, Frank’s son said: “It was within his groin and you imagine that in your groin pressing on all your nerves, your bones, your joints.

“I watched my dad suffer for years. I watched him go from being very active, he was very fit. I saw him deteriorate to the point that he died an awful death.”

The coroner in Frank’s case said that the mistake lead to Frank developing a type of cancer “which ultimately lead to his death”.

In response to the investigation by ITV Tonight, Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said: “We want the NHS to offer the safest and best care anywhere in the world - which means becoming an organisation that consistently learns from its mistakes and makes improvements in the interests of patients, and we have a big programme of reform underway to help achieve that goal.

“From April, all NHS Trusts will be required to publish how many deaths they might have been able to avoid, along with the lessons that they have learned to improve care.

“The Healthcare Safety Investigation Branch will help the NHS learn from mistakes in the same way that the airline industry does and improve the quality of investigations across the NHS."

 If you believe that you, or a loved one, have suffered an injury as a result of medical or clinical negligence then call our friendly team on 0333 257 7405* where they will take some details and pass them to a team of specialist medical negligence solicitors.