Personal Injury, Serious Injury & Clinical Negligence

Delay in diagnosing cervical cancer

AB –v- Poole Hospital NHS Foundation Trust

Clarke Willmott were instructed to act on behalf of the Claimant under a Conditional Fee Agreement in November 2012 following a diagnosis of cervical cancer.

In August 2009 the Claimant underwent a routine cervical smear which was reported by the Defendant as normal. In fact the smear should have been reported as CIN III or invasion.

Between July 2011 and November the Claimant attended her GP complaining of low pelvic pain, tiredness and constipation. She was referred to a colorectal surgeon and underwent a transvaginal scan which was unremarkable and she was then referred to a gynaecologist and reviewed in the rapid access clinic where she eventually underwent examination under anaesthesia and a loop diathermy biopsy. A CT and MRI scan followed and finally a diagnosis of tumour of the cervix.

The Claimant was urgently referred for insertion of a stent, chemoradiotherapy and high dose brachytherapy.

Medical evidence was obtained from Mr Pat Soutter, Gynaecological Oncologist; he advised that if a diagnosis had been made in 2009 and the Claimant had received appropriate treatment she would have received minimally invasive laser/diathermy which only had a 9% risk of recurrence within 9 years.

As a result of the delay the tumour was likely to have doubled in size 17 times and the Claimant could have avoided chemoradiotherapy, insertion of the stent and vaginal radiotherapy.

A letter before action was sent in February 2013 inviting the Defendant to make formal admissions in respect of breach of duty and causation.

On 12 June 2013 the Defendant admitted breach of duty in respect of the failure to appropriately report the cervical smear from 2009 but reserved their position in relation to causation.

In April 2014 the Claimant’s witness statement and Schedule of Loss was served on the NHS Litigation Authority. An initial offer was made by the Defendant for £60,000. The Claimant then underwent further investigations so settlement negotiations were put on hold.

The claim eventually settled in May 2015 for £100,000.

The medical negligence department at Clarke Willmott have extensive experience in investigating delay in diagnosis of cancer claims. If you require further advice please contact Kerry Fifield; Partner on 0345 209 1268 or email