Health board ‘sorry’ over cancer delay

A HEALTH board has apologised for delays in diagnosing cancer in a patient who died last year.

The 57-year-old man’s brother complained he had been “inappropriately cared for and treated” at Caithness General Hospital, in Wick, and Raigmore Hospital, in Inverness, between February and October 2010.

He said his brother felt let down by NHS Highland, as his last six to eight weeks were an unpleasant experience.

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The man, referred to as Mr A, had a history of cancer of the larynx and had completed treatment in 2008.

Last year, after experiencing difficulty swallowing, he was seen by staff in both hospitals but died in October.

The case was referred to the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman, who upheld two of three complaints.

He ruled there were unreasonable delays in the case, and of particular concern was an initial four-week delay for an urgent endoscopy referral. There was also a delay between 11 June and 5 August, 2010 in carrying out a further endoscopy “with no clear management plan in place”.

NHS Highland chief executive Elaine Mead said: “On behalf of NHS Highland, I am really sorry that we were not able to get everything right for this patient.”