A NURSE who was incorrectly told she had invasive cancer before undergoing an unnecessary mastectomy at Barnsley Hospital has spoken out - after bosses from the venue’s ruling trust issued an apology for their ‘horror’ mistake.
Brenda Young revealed her anguish following her diagnosis and subsequent procedure at the venue.
The 65-year-old, of Hoylandswaine, had to live with one breast for around nine months as reconstructive surgery was delayed because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Brenda, a hospice nurse, instructed medical negligence lawyers at Irwin Mitchell to investigate her care under Barnsley Hospital NHS Foundation Trust and help her access the specialist support she requires.
It comes after a serious incident report - compiled by the trust - found there was no evidence that Brenda had invasive cancer.
It added a doctor ‘did not seek a second opinion’ when analysing test results before Brenda’s diagnosis.
Brenda said: “I was devastated and extremely worried when I received my diagnosis.
“Although I’m a nurse and work in a hospice, nothing prepares you for the news that you have cancer.
“I underwent the mastectomy later that month but I was advised that the samples taken showed that I didn’t have breast cancer at all.
“However, by this time it was too late and I had already undergone the mastectomy.
“Sadly, the pandemic meant that my reconstructive surgery was delayed until the end of 2020.
“During this time I had to live with one breast which made me feel extremely uncomfortable and self-conscious.
“I felt frustrated that I had undergone removal of my breast for a cancer that I didn’t have, but then had to wait so long for reconstruction.
“I was told about the fact that I didn’t have cancer around the time that the first lockdown started and therefore had to cope with my horror and anguish alone, without having free access to family and friends and other networks to support me.
“I know nothing can make up for what has happened but by speaking out I just hope that I can try and help prevent what happened to me happening to others.”
In a letter to Brenda, Jackie Murphy, the trust’s director of nursing and quality, wrote: “On behalf of the trust I would like to apologise that on this occasion the standard of care you received fell below that which you had a right to expect.”
She added the trust had identified ‘actions and learning’ which will be monitored through governance procedures.
Rebecca Hall, the lawyer representing Brenda, said: “The first-hand account we’ve heard from Brenda is truly shocking.
“Understandably what happened to her has not only had a physical effect but also a psychological impact on her.
“We’re now investigating what happened to Brenda in more detail and are determined to help her access the specialist support she requires to come to terms with her ordeal.
“We welcome the trust’s apology and pledge to learn lessons.
“Patients’ safety should always be the fundamental priority in all care.”
Brenda, of Hoylandswaine in Barnsley, has a family history of breast cancer. She attended a routine screening appointment at Barnsley Hospital on 3 February, 2020. The serious incident report by Barnsley Hospital NHS Foundation Trust said an abnormality was detected by a doctor. Following a biopsy Brenda was diagnosed with invasive cancer in her right breast.
She underwent a mastectomy on 26 February, 2020. Following examination of breast tissue it was believed that Brenda did not have cancer. Specimens were sent to a regional expert who confirmed Brenda did not have cancer.
Brenda was given the news on 5 March, 2020. She said that because of the Covid-19 pandemic she had to wait until 16 November, 2020 to undergo reconstructive surgery.
Rebecca Hall, Brenda’s lawyer at Irwin Mitchell, added: “While Covid-19 has had a huge impact on the healthcare system it’s vital that people continue to participate in cancer screening programmes.
“One of the most significant issues facing the system has been around cancer services, with well-documented issues around patients waiting longer for treatments.
“Some patients who have been impacted during recent months will understandably have a number of concerns about their care.
“It’s crucial that they now receive the help and support they require, not only to ensure they have access to treatment as soon as possible, but also so they can establish answers to their concerns.”