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Parents Urged to ‘Trust Their Instincts’ After Boy Dies Following Delayed Cancer Diagnosis

A mother who tragically lost her little boy after his cancer diagnosis was delayed has urged parents to ‘trust their instincts’ and speak up if they believe their doctors are wrong.

Four-year-old Mackenzie Cackett battled brain and spinal tumours before losing his brave fight for life in May 2012.

The trusts responsible for Colchester Hospital and Addenbrooke’s in Cambridge, where he was treated, have now admitted the original tumour should have been spotted earlier.

Colchester Hospital University NHS Foundation Trust, which paid out more than £4m in clinical negligence claims last year, was placed under special measures in November 2013 after claims from the Care Quality Commission (CQC) that patient care in its cancer ward was lacking. The claims were backed by higher than normal mortality rates in the unit at the time and the fact that 22 out of 61 cases reviewed showed delays in providing patients with vital cancer treatment.

Addenbrookes Hospital was placed under special measures last month after a CQC report highlighted concerns about outpatient treatment, staff shortages, and regular maternity unit closures. “Special measures” is a term used when the CQC and the NHS Health regulator, Monitor intervene to help a Trust develop a plan of action to improve its services.

Mackenzie first complained of a ‘sore head’ and sickness in August 2010. But when parents Danielle and James from Halstead in Essex, took him in to see their doctor, they were repeatedly told there was nothing to worry about. An MRI scan six months later revealed the devastating truth.

After Mackenzie underwent surgery and specialist therapy to remove a tumour the size of a tangerine, a scan of his brain showed the tumour had gone. But doctors failed to also scan his neck. Mackenzie’s parents believe that had they done so, they may have noticed a second tumour on his spine, which may have saved his life.

Mackenzie began to feel unwell again after his operation; however, further delays in scanning meant that the tumour on his spine was only discovered in January 2012. By this time, it was too late. He was moved to East Anglian Children’s Hospice where he died on May 28, 2012.

I represented Mackenzie’s parents in a civil action against Colchester and Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trusts, which we recently settled for a five-figure sum.

Danielle and James are understandably angry at what happened to Mackenzie as obviously in their minds, they will always think ‘what if?’ They have faced a long battle to get justice for Mackenzie and they are relieved it is finally at an end.

No amount of money can ever make up for what this family has been through, but I hope this brings them some closure and they can now try and move forward with the rest of their lives.

Our Clinical Negligence Solicitors deal with a huge number of these types of cases where a delayed cancer diagnosis has brought unimaginable heartache to families of patients denied the kind of timely treatment they have needed so urgently following initial symptoms

The earlier cancer is identified and correctly diagnosed the better the chances effective treatment will lead to a positive outcome. Unfortunately, missed opportunities for diagnosing cancer are increasing within the health service and as this case so tragically illustrates, such delays can have devastating consequences.

Karen Cathcart is a Clinical Negligence Solicitor with Slater and Gordon in London.

Slater and Gordon Lawyers help people who have suffered from delayed or wrong diagnosis of cancer due to Medical Negligence.

For a free consultation call our Medical Negligence Solicitors on freephone 0800 916 9049 or contact us online.

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