Widow of cancer patient hits out at ‘shambolic’ GP arrangements

Michael Doidge was diagnosed with cancer in January 2015. Picture: Contributed

Michael Doidge was diagnosed with cancer in January 2015. Picture: Contributed

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The widow of a lung cancer sufferer has hit out at “shambolic” GP arrangements which she claims led to her husband dying in agony.

Former fire chief Michael Doidge, 69, was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer in January 2015 and returned to his home in Johnshaven, Aberdeenshire, in February to spend his last days in peace.

His wife Jan, 65, said his final six weeks were spent in agony as doctors from Inverbervie Medical Practice failed to ensure he had enough pain relief and she was left to administer powerful painkillers.

Shortages of out-of-hours nurses meant Mr Doidge was left waiting for medication on a number of occasions, so his wife was told by one doctor that she could give him medicine through a syringe.

However another GP said she should not without informing a doctor, leaving her distressed and confused by their conflicting advice.

Mr Doidge, who was born in Bermuda, died at his Aberdeenshire home on 23 March, and his wife complained to Scotland’s public services watchdog about his care.

Scotland’s ombudsman Jim Martin said he was “extremely concerned” and took the unusual step of writing to the General Medical Council about the risks to patient safety arising from allowing family members to administer powerful medication.

He ordered the practice to apologise for its failings but dismissed some of Mrs Doidge’s other complaints, saying that the practice took reasonable care of her husband and record-keeping mistakes would not have had a significant impact.

Mrs Doidge told The Scotsman: “The whole thing was completely shambolic, as one doctor would come and say something while another would say something completely different. Mike’s wish was to die at home and that’s what I wanted for him. Instead of it being simple, it was completely chaotic.

“There didn’t seem to be anyone looking over what was going on and saying that there was a problem, as everyone was just coming and going all the time.”

Mrs Doidge said she was confident in administering the medicine to her husband of 40 years, but she was deeply distressed when a different doctor told her she should not have done so without medical advice.

The former English lecturer said: “It caused me huge distress at the most stressful time in my life. I know management of cancer can be difficult when it is very advanced but I always felt my husband’s was way behind.”

A spokesman for the medical practice said: “Inverbervie Medical Practice acknowledges the recommendations made by the Ombudsman and they are being implemented in full.”

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