Tumour mum fears 'lessons not learned' by Bath hospital

Aimee and Lara Willcox
Image caption Lara Willcox was sent to the US for treatment after she was diagnosed with a brain tumour

A woman whose two-year-old daughter was not given an urgent brain scan, despite showing symptoms of a tumour, has said she is "shocked" that a similar case occurred a year later.

A report found Lara Willcox should have had an urgent MRI scan at Bath's Royal United Hospital (RUH).

The hospital said staff had been given updated training.

Lara's mother, Aimee Willcox, said: "I don't think they've learned from what we went through."

Lara, from Paulton in Somerset, was twice sent home from the hospital - in June and July 2016 - despite having early morning vomiting, lethargy, neck pain and balance issues, which are signs of a brain tumour.

She was placed on a waiting list for an MRI scan, which was due to have taken place 11 weeks after she was first seen by doctors.

However, she became so unwell that Ms Willcox took her to Bristol Children's Hospital, where a scan identified a tumour.

She was sent to Florida for proton beam therapy.

Ms Willcox said she was worried the delay could have had a "damaging cognitive effect" on her daughter, who is now four years old.

Image caption Lara Willcox should have been given an urgent brain scan, a report found, but instead was put on an 11-week waiting list

In 2017 a 15-week-old baby attended the RUH with signs of a growth in the head, and also did not receive an urgent scan.

That child had a non-cancerous cyst removed following a routine out-patient appointment.

A report into that case found there was a missed opportunity to perform a scan, which would have led to a diagnosis five days earlier.

Image copyright Royal United Hospital Bath NHS Trust
Image caption The Royal United Hospital in Bath said it was 'determined to learn' from the case

The baby's mother, who wished to remain anonymous, said the cyst was "80 percent of her brain".

"They don't know how much brain she does have left and whether it will re-grow once the cyst has been drained."

Ms Willcox said: "I was assured... that the reason they did this report was to ensure no family went through the delay in diagnosis that we went through.

"So I was so shocked to find out it had happened again a year later."

She added: "I don't think they've learned from what we went through. I don't think they've changed their processes."

Bath's Royal United Hospital (RUH) said it was "determined to learn from" Lara's case.

Staff were given updated training about spotting symptoms of brain tumours in children, and a quicker referral system had been put in place, a spokesman said.

They added that an investigation into the second case found the baby was referred for an outpatient appointment within two weeks, and surgery for a non-cancerous condition was carried out the day after that appointment.

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