"Delay in urgent breast cancer referral"

About: Aberdeen Royal Infirmary

(as the patient),

I visited my gp having noticed symptoms that I was worried could indicate breast cancer. My gp agreed and advised she would put through an urgent referral to the breast clinic at Aberdeen royal infirmary. I spoke to my work who offered to put me through a private route if it meant I would be seen quicker. I called my gp to say I was considering this and she strongly advised that I stay with the NHS route as care standards were so high and I would be seen within two weeks. I was reassured and decided to follow her advice.

I waited four days and as I hadn't heard about an appointment, called the clinic to find out how I would be notified. The person I spoke to checked the system and confirmed that I had an appointment but the date was four weeks after the initial referral. I spoke to my gp who advised that she could only assume I had been downgraded for some reason perhaps due to my age (I'm 39). I spoke to work who put me through the private care path but due to the delay in taking this route and it being the same consultants used by Aberdeen royal infirmary, this would also take three weeks for appointment. I received that week a letter inviting me to an MRI at Aberdeen royal infirmary to be followed up by a consultation to review results four weeks after my initial referral. I called the MRI unit to see if consultation would be brought forward if something suspicious was found and was verbally advised this would not be the case. I cancelled both appointments as I would still be quicker going privately. By the following week I was struggling emotionally at work and they managed to get me a same day appointment in Glasgow. I have since been diagnosed with invasive breast cancer.

I raised my concerns with the local gp and received a response to say that the gp had been wrongly advised that my referral had been downgraded. The delay was due to a shortage of consultants with patients being transferred from Elgin to Aberdeen causing an increase in numbers requiring the service. The current wait time was 2/3 weeks for mammogram and 4/5 weeks for following consultation instead of the recommended two weeks. This had not been communicated to gp practices and they I turn were providing incorrect information to patients as a result.

The practice had since communicated with the breast clinic manager to ask that this be communicated to all practices to avoid unnecessary stress for patients at an already anxious time.

I'm incredibly grateful my gp referred me but also incredibly disappointed at how much more stressful a process this has turned out to be than it need have been.

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Responses

Response from Linda Oldroyd, Nurse Consultant Patient Safety and Experience, NHS Grampian

Dear Daltocat

Firstly please accept our apologies for the delay in responding to your posting. This was to enable us to have a conversation with the relevant service manager about the concerns you raise. The service response is posted below:

The breast service did, for a variety of reasons, incur increased waiting times for clinic appointments but steps have been taken to improve these. We are also looking at ways to keep GPs updated with current waiting times.

With respect to your individual situation, we would appreciate the chance to investigate your your case. We do take patient feedback extremely seriously as it offers us the opportunity to improve our service.

If you would like to share your details to help us investigate your concerns please get in touch by email: loldroyd@nhs.net or by telephone: 01224 224923

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