Ex-MEP wins £100k damages after hospital error
Former West Midlands MEP Christine Oddy has spoken of her fight to defeat cancer and how she won more than £100,000 in damages after a hospital consultant failed to diagnose a rare form of the disease.
Ms Oddy, aged 54, from Coventry, who was a Labour member of the European Parliament in the 1990s, took legal action against the University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust and received an out of court settlement. She feared she might die during a five-year battle to find out what was wrong with her,
Her complaints about the care she received at the Walsgrave Hospital, Coventry, and the failure of consultant gynaecologist Louis Sant Cassia to spot that she was suffering from an unusual form of cervical cancer, despite abnormal smear tests, were upheld by the Healthcare Commission and the Health Service Ombudsman for England.
The Ombudsman found “service failures in the care and treatment provided by Mr Sant Cassia and the Trust”.
The body also found maladministration in the way the Trust handled Ms Oddy’s complaints about the standard of the treatment she received.
The Trust and the Healthcare Commission have been ordered to apologise to Ms Oddy for their “shortcomings”.
Mr Sant Cassia, who continues to work at Walsgrave, now re-named University Hospital, has been told by the Ombudsman to draft an action plan to show how he will “build the learning from this complaint into his future clinical practice”.
The Ombudsman’s report stated: “Mr Sant Cassia’s overall management of Ms Oddy’s care and treatment demonstrated very little flexibility in his diagnosis or recommendation for treatment, even after discovering a lesion in April 2002.”
A Commission medical adviser identified “serious concerns” about Mr Sant Cassia’s management of the case, found that he failed to diagnose cancer, conducted insufficient tests and failed to obtain a second opinion.
Ms Oddy suffers permanent side effects caused by the large amounts of radiation needed to tackle her cancer, which is now in remission.
She said: “When I started the legal action I honestly thought I might die. But I was just so fed up with the way I had been treated.”
Ian Fraser, acting medical director at the trust, said: “We settled this case without any admission of liability. We are sympathetic to the points raised by Ms Oddy, however, and would like to apologise for any distress caused.
“UHCW is continually improving its services and we hope to demonstrate that we have learned from Ms Oddy’s experiences five years ago.”