Anguish of woman at centre of vic cancer blunder

Louise Barratt at home in Marton. She was told she had  cancer two months after medics informed her a lump in her breast was benign.
Louise Barratt at home in Marton. She was told she had cancer two months after medics informed her a lump in her breast was benign.
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A WOMAN diagnosed with breast cancer two months after being told a lump was harmless today said: “I have been failed.”

Louise Barratt, 30, underwent a scan and was given the all clear by both a radiologist and consultant at Blackpool Victoria Hospital.

But two months later she went back into hospital to be told the ‘benign’ lump was in fact cancer.

She has undergone further surgery and had to have her lymphnodes removed - increasing the risk of her developing lymphodema.

Today, she told The Gazette: “I went on my own because I didn’t think it was anything, and then they told me it was actually cancer.

“When they gave me the bad news, I just collapsed.”

Her case sparked an investigation at the hospital, which found the radiologist who reviewed Mrs Barratt’s ultrasound scan had not followed correct procedure, failing to perform a biopsy at the time of the scan.

Hospital chiefs have revealed 470 patients’ ultrasound scans have been reviewed since the revelation in November – with 24 of those tests now triggering concern.

All of the patients have been contacted by Vic bosses and been asked to return to hospital to be re-assessed.

Louise, from Marton, said: “I do feel angry. It’s bad enough having to go through cancer anyway.

“But to be told initially a lump is benign, then be told it is cancer is devastating.

“And then to find out yours might not be the only case and to read about it in The Gazette brought it all back.

“I know how those patients who have been called back will be feeling, how worried they’ll be, because I’ve been through it.”

Mrs Barratt, who works as a receptionist in a doctors’ surgery, went to her GP after finding a small lump in her breast when adjusting her bra.

She was fast-tracked to The Vic, where she underwent a small needle biopsy in May 2012 and had to come back another time as there no radiologist available at the time.

Almost two weeks later, she went back for the results – which showed the small needle biopsy results to be inadequate and she underwent an ultrasound.

She was told by the radiologist at the time and then a consultant later, the lump was benign.

Mrs Barratt said: “It was a big relief. They said they would keep the lump in for six months, then look at removing it.

“But I said I wanted it removed sooner than that.”

Mrs Barratt, who got married to husband Ryan in June last year in Barbados, was horrified when she was asked to come in earlier than expected for surgery.

She said: “I had a routine appointment, but then got a letter through saying they wanted me to come in in two weeks.

“What really worried me was the fact my auntie died from breast cancer.”

There had been a two-month delay in diagnosing Mrs Barratt’s cancer.

She said: “I had to have a more invasive operation and have my lymphnodes removed.

“No one can say for sure, but I probably wouldn’t have had to have that more invasive surgery, or have my lymphnodes removed, if the delay hadn’t have happened.

“I will be at risk of developing lymphodema, having had my lymphnodes removed.”

Mrs Barratt said: “One of the worst bits was as I had just got married, we had been thinking about starting a family.

“My cancer was hormone-linked, so if I had have got pregnant, it would have fuelled it and made it grow.”

Mrs Barratt said: “In some ways I feel like I must have had a guardian angel.

“This shouldn’t have happened, but at least because of me, other women now may have been helped.

“If because of my case, things have been changed so it doesn’t happen again, then that’s something good to come out of this.

“And I hope it raises awareness in general. If you find a lump then you must go to get it checked and if you’re not happy with what the doctors say, if you feel something isn’t right, then insist, just push.

“I was lucky, mine was caught early as I went as soon as I found the lump.

“And I was insistent on the surgery.

“I do feel failed, but I have to say my breast care nurse Sarah Guilfoyle was brilliant. She was there with me from start to finish and really helped me through it all.”

The radiologist no longer works for the trust or the NHS and the matter has been reported to the General Medical Council.

A spokesman for the GMC said: “The radiologist at the centre of the probe is still fully registered and licensed to practice.”

Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS foundation Trust has set up a phoneline for anyone who may have been affected by the review of hundreds of ultrasound scans.

The phone number is (01253) 306650.

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