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Havering's hospital trust apologises for gran's 'avoidable' cancer death

PUBLISHED: 08:16 22 May 2018 | UPDATED: 09:16 22 May 2018

Dagenham grandmother Pamela North, 73, died following a hospital’s nine-month delay to diagnose her. Picture: Family handout

Dagenham grandmother Pamela North, 73, died following a hospital's nine-month delay to diagnose her. Picture: Family handout

Family handout

Havering's NHS hospital trust has apologised to the family of a grandmother whose painful death from bladder cancer the NHS watchdog ruled "avoidable".

Dagenham grandmother Pamela North, 73, died following a hospital’s nine-month delay to diagnose her. Picture: Family handoutDagenham grandmother Pamela North, 73, died following a hospital’s nine-month delay to diagnose her. Picture: Family handout

Pamela North, 73, died two years ago this Friday following a nine-month failure to diagnose her.

Now her son James is telling her story to encourage others to come forward if their loved ones have received the wrong care.

“The only way for justice to be done is that they make sure nothing happens to anyone else,” he told the Recorder.

“The damage is already done for us, to be honest, and the apology doesn’t really mean a thing.”

Dagenham grandmother Pamela North, 73, died following a hospital’s nine-month delay to diagnose her. Picture: Family handoutDagenham grandmother Pamela North, 73, died following a hospital’s nine-month delay to diagnose her. Picture: Family handout

Pamela, a grandmother of eight from Dagenham, had been referred to King George Hospital in Goodmayes by her GP back in February 2015. Despite going to hospital several times for a number of tests which showed symptoms of cancer, doctors did not spot her condition until the last few weeks of her life.

All this time she suffered the painful effects of kidney failure. Prompt treatment, which would have seen her receive chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatment, would have given her a 70 per cent chance of life.

An “annoyed”, “stressed” James, 48, made a complaint to Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust, which runs King George. Their investigation, according to the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO) “did not take responsibility for these failings” or acknowledge whether Pamela could have survived if provided with the right care and treatment.

In April last year the Ombudsman “fully upheld” James’ complaint, ordering the trust to “formally apologise for the failings in his mother’s care and treatment”.

The trust also agreed to pay James £10,000, which the family donated to Saint Francis Hospice, who cared for their mother in her final moments.

“It was never about the money, anyway,” he said. “It was about a little bit of justice, to be honest.”

“We accept that we fell short of the quality of care we aspire to, and that the complaints process did not provide them with the appropriate reassurance,” said a spokeswoman for the trust, adding that “significant progress” had been made since.

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