Cannock mum developed cancer after wrong smear result

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image copyrightRachael Foley
image captionRachael Foley underwent a hysterectomy after being diagnosed with cervical cancer in 2017

A mother developed cervical cancer after wrongly being told an abnormal smear test was clear.

Rachael Foley, from Cannock, had to have a hysterectomy and cancerous cells removed in 2017 when a routine test discovered "high grade" abnormalities.

A review of her smear test from 2014 revealed she had been given inaccurate findings. Another woman, now terminally ill, was also given the wrong results.

The Staffordshire health trust involved has paid an undisclosed sum to both.

University Hospitals of North Midlands NHS Trust (UHNM) admitted a breach of duty.

Mrs Foley, who is married to Mark and has an eight-year-old son, Lewis, said she had "no reason to think anything other than what the results said".

"To be told that my previous result was abnormal came as a shock; but then to be told I had cancer and go on to have a hysterectomy was absolutely devastating," she said.

"Before my diagnosis I had such a happy and fulfilling life but coming to terms with my diagnosis and what it meant, not only for me but also Mark and my family, was difficult."

image copyrightRachael Foley
image captionRachael Foley, pictured with son Lewis and husband Mark, said she could not thank her family enough for all the support they had given her

Her solicitors Irwin Mitchell said if the result of the previous smear in 2014 had been reported correctly, Mrs Foley would have undergone earlier treatment to remove the cells.

On the balance of probabilities, they said, she would not have developed cervical cancer. She has now been cured.

A lawyer for the second woman, a Staffordshire mother in her 30s, said she had also developed cervical cancer and had now received a terminal diagnosis.

Talking about that case, Mrs Foley said: "To find out that... another woman younger than me is in a situation where it's life-threatening, is upsetting."

Jenna Harris, from Irwin Mitchell, told the BBC: "Whilst we're talking about two separate cases, there are common themes regarding the misreporting of smear tests and some worrying issues identified which are quite similar and need to be addressed."

Mark Cawley, who represented Mrs Foley, said: "It's also vital that there's not a loss of confidence in the screening programme and women continue to attend appointments."

Dr John Oxtoby, medical director at UHNM, said: "I would like to express my sincere regret and apologies to any patients who have been affected by the misreading of cervical screening results.

"We investigate all incidents and share the findings in full with patients and use these to continue to improve services we provide."

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