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Probe into man's missed cancer amid 'admin error'

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image copyrightCouchman family
image captionJulie Couchman said her husband was also her carer

A hospital has launched an investigation into the death of a man whose cancer went undetected for months.

Wilfred Couchman, 59, was seen at the Kent and Canterbury Hospital in January after having difficulty swallowing.

The hospital later failed to carry out a biopsy "due to an admin error" and oesophageal cancer was diagnosed in June. He died in August.

East Kent Hospitals apologised to the family and said it was investigating.

Mr Couchman died nine days after walking his daughter down the aisle on her wedding day.

She described how when her father first went to hospital in January, he was told he would have a biopsy six weeks later, but the appointment was never arranged because of an administration error.

image copyrightCouchman family video
image captionWilfred Couchman died nine days after walking his daughter Kayleigh down the aisle on her wedding day

In February, Mr Couchman, from Folkestone, went to the emergency department at the William Harvey Hospital in Ashford, again with difficulty swallowing, but was discharged.

Kayleigh Shields said: "My dad visited A&E on three different occasions with food stuck in his oesophagus, but cancer was not diagnosed.

"When you're told it's not cancer you believe it's not cancer."

'That's the end of me'

Ms Shields said: "He was diagnosed in late May by which time it was stage 4 and there was nothing he could do."

Mr Couchman told his wife, Julie Couchman, when he was given the diagnosis: "Well, that's the end of me."

Dr Rebecca Martin, chief medical officer at East Kent Hospitals, said: "We offer our heartfelt condolences to Mr Couchman's family on their loss and we are sorry that we did not give him the standard of care they would want and expect.

"We are working closely with Mr Couchman's' family and are investigating Mr Couchman's care so that any lessons that can be learned are."

"I am angry and upset and felt guilty that I hadn't pushed it more, but I believed what they said," Ms Shields said.

"Things would have been so different if it had been found in January, but he didn't get that chance - it was robbed from him."

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Related Topics

  • Cancer
  • Folkestone
  • Ashford
  • Canterbury