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NHS trust apologises over death of woman, 27, after cancer misdiagnosis

An NHS trust has apologised over the death of a 27-year-old events manager after a locum gynaecologist mistook aggressive cervical cancer for a hormonal or bowel problem.

The family of Porsche McGregor-Sims, who died a day after being admitted to Queen Alexandra hospital in Portsmouth, told her inquest that she had felt she was not listened to and that the misdiagnosis had robbed them of a chance to say goodbye.

The area coroner Rosamund Rhodes-Kemp said the case was one of the most “shocking and traumatic” she had dealt with and she would write to Portsmouth hospitals university NHS trust expressing her concern.

In December 2019, McGregor-Sims’ GP referred her to a consultant after she complained of abdominal pain and vaginal bleeding.

She saw Dr Peter Schlesinger, an agency locum at the Queen Alexandra hospital, at the end of January 2020. He did not physically examine her and believed her symptoms were linked to changing hormones or irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

After the UK went into lockdown two months later, McGregor-Sims continued to report symptoms but was prescribed antibiotics over the phone and was seen in person only after a GP thought she might have Covid because she had shortness of breath.

McGregor-Sims was finally diagnosed with an aggressive form of cervical cancer and on 13 April was taken to hospital, where she died a day later.

During the inquest, her family accused Schlesinger of having denied them their chance to say goodbye. Her mother, Fiona Hawke, told him: “You robbed us of the opportunity to prepare for her death and say goodbye to her.”

Schlesinger insisted McGregor-Sims’ symptoms – including bleeding after sex – did not lead him to think she had a serious illness.

Dr Claire Burton, a consultant gynaecologist, said Schlesinger should have physically examined McGregor-Sims, and apologised for the care she received at the trust.

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Source: The Guardian, 24 March 2022


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