"A diagnosis would have helped us cope"

About: Northern General Hospital / Older people's healthcare Royal Hallamshire Hospital / Ophthalmology Sheffield PCT Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust

(as a relative),

My mum experienced increasing memory problems over the last year of her life and when I went with her to the GP and suggested that she might be getting dementia, he just said 'I'll be the judge of that.' Mum did not think she had any problems and it was hard to get anyone to take my concerns seriously. She was also becoming increasingly frail and was losing her appetite. We were up at the doctors again later in the year when she developed a protruding left eye. I knew this might be a serious symptom but the GP just told me to continue with the glaucoma eyedrops which the hostipal had in fact discontinued on her previous visit. However, the GP did do a memory test, and agreed to refer her to the Memory Clinic, but they had a 3 month waiting list. Mum did had an appointment at the RHH eye clinic so I hoped that they might be able to get to the bottom of what was wrong with mum. It was a dreadful struggle to get mum up to the clinic; she was weak and not very mobile. The consultant just said that the swelling was positional and to stop the eyedrops again. I was devasted because I was sure mum was very ill. Over the next 2 weeks she continued to deteriorate and when she finally could not get out of bed, I rang again for the GP, but it 2 hours later when the GP had still not arrived that I rang for the ambulance. The paramedic who attended recognised straightaway how ill mum was and she was admitted to NGH. Mum's GP arrived after the paramedic and took me aside and told me bluntly that the problem was a malignancy. At the hospital, Mum was diagnosed with advanced lung cancer and died 9 days later.

In all the time we were going to the GP in the last year, no blood tests, no observations, no X rays or investigations were done, so it is a puzzle how the GP was able to tell me on the day she was admitted to the NGH that she had cancer.

Now I know that if mum had been diagnosed earlier the outcome would most probably have been the same. But this last year has been hell for mum and me. We were unsupported and I had trouble at work because of the amount of time I increasingly needed to support mum. If mum had been diagnosed, she would have had support and care from the lung cancer nurse specialists, social services, Macmillan Nurses and may have died with dignity and in comfort at home or in a hospice. As it was she died on a busy medical ward with me harassing the staff for analgesia because she looked in pain and uncomfortable for the last few days of her life.

I am so angry with the GP who failed us completely.

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