A father-of-two died after being diagnosed with inoperable cancer three years after an abnormal growth was found on his bowel but doctors failed to tell him he needed it removing.
When Wayne Evans didn’t hear anything back from his GP following tests, he believed there was nothing to worry about as his health began to improve.
Three years later though, when his symptoms returned, he visited his GP and was shocked to be asked if he’d had any follow-up appointments, as he’d never been contacted after the initial tests or informed of any problems.
Surgery in the weeks which followed revealed the inoperable tumour on his bowel and, despite undergoing chemotherapy treatment, Mr Evans died at the age of just 41.
GP Surgery offers six-figure damages settlement after legal medical negligence claim
The GP practice – Ridgeway Surgery in Sedgley, West Midlands – has now agreed to pay a six-figure damages settlement to Mr Evans’ widow Clare, who says the loss of her husband and father to her two girls has left her family ‘broken’.
In a legal case against the practice, Hudgell Solicitors alleged that the tests in 2008 – which showed the abnormal growth – had been wrongly filed away at the GP Practice after being sent from Russells Hall Hospital, Dudley.
Mr Evans had been referred for tests by his GP after experiencing tenderness in his stomach and diarrhoea, and it was alleged that had the growth been removed after being identified, he would still be alive today and cancer free.
The six-figure settlement for Clare and her family took into account the avoidable pain and suffering Wayne endured, the impact it had on their lives, and the loss Clare, Natasha and Chloe suffered as a result.
Family share story to warn others to chase up health test results
Wayne’s wife Clare says life for her and their daughters Natasha, 23, and Chloe, 19, will never be the same again, and agreed to speak about the loss of her husband in the hope it will warn others to follow-up all appointments, tests and scans, and not rely on doctors to highlight concerns.
Clare, 45, from Sedgley, said: “I don’t want anyone else to go through what we’ve been through. Our family is no longer complete and I want others to know what happened to Wayne and that you can’t always wait and rely on your GP to come back to you.
“Yes, it should happen, but it clearly doesn’t always happen, so people must chase up their own results. Don’t expect a phone call and assume all is ok if you don’t get one because mistakes can be made.
“In hindsight, I wish we had rang to check the results, but Wayne started to feel well again and we didn’t think about it. We were brought up with the belief that your GP would be in touch if there was a problem after you have had tests, and we thought no news was good news.
“The letter had been filed and we were never told about the polyp growth. I know everybody makes mistakes, but this is a huge mistake to make. I have worked in a GP surgery myself before and you simply do not make mistakes like that.
“It makes it even worse that it was an error. In any circumstances, cancer is bad, but to know it had been caught early and could have been prevented makes me distraught. These are people’s lives you’re dealing with and our lives will never be the same again. As a family, we are broken.”
Return of symptoms led to diagnosis being made years later
In 2011, Mr Evans returned to the GP surgery as he began to experience similar symptoms to previously. After realising Mr Evans had not been told about the polyp, the GP thought he may have a hernia which had become twisted and he was booked in for surgery.
His symptoms worsened however just before the operation was due, and doctors called Clare to tell her they believed the problems could be something more sinister. Clare’s worst fears came true, with the operation revealing the inoperable tumour.
“When they told me, I just remember collapsing and falling to the floor,” she said.
“I was waiting for him on the ward and he had to have a colostomy bag from that point onwards. We got him home just before Christmas and the cancer had spread to his lung. I cared for him at home and his chemotherapy made him so ill.
“Wayne had a heart attack after the first lot of chemotherapy in February 2012 and I thought I had lost him then, then he later had a seizure.”
Mr Evans’ health began to deteriorate further in February 2013 during a family trip to Portsmouth, by which time he was taking 13 separate medications to manage his symptoms. He passed away at home, with Clare, Natasha and Chloe by his side, in May 2013.
Clare, who was married to Wayne for almost 20 years, added: “It was awful. The sofa became my bed and I slept downstairs with Wayne, even when Marie Curie nurses were there. Wayne knew he was going to die. He called us all to go to him before falling asleep.”
“He took the girls everywhere and he always wanted to protect us. Now, our lives will never be the same again and I’ve lost my safety net. I wasn’t just Wayne’s wife, I was his best friend and he was my rock. We did everything together and I’m heartbroken.”
Damages will help finances following loss of ‘family rock’ and provider
Chartered Legal Executive Sam Thompson said:
“This is a truly tragic case in which a basic error has led to a family losing a much loved husband and father. He was a committed family man taken from those who loved him.
“Furthermore, Mr Evans experienced considerable guilt and distress because of the late diagnosis, with particular concerns about the fact he was going to leave his wife and children in financial difficulty.
“We are glad the GP surgery has finally agreed to pay a substantial damages settlement in reflection of their loss. We know no amount of money can ever reflect the loss of life and the loss of a loved one, but it was very important to make sure Clare was financially in the position she would have been had her husband still been alive and providing for them.
“Throughout this process, Clare has been extremely strong and brave. I hope that Clare and her family can now positively move forward and take time to reflect on and speak about who Wayne was, rather than what happened to him.”
Clare said Hudgell Solicitors and Sam in particular had been a great support to her throughout the legal process, which was launched by Mr Evans himself after learning of his diagnosis and the error made when not informing him he needed the growth removing.
“It was Wayne who contacted Hudgell Solicitors in January 2012 because he wanted someone to be accountable,” Clare said.
“Sam at Hudgell Solicitors has been lovely and so helpful. He’s always around to speak to me and has always listened. I’m glad that we have been able to hold people to account, and hopefully by sharing what happened to Wayne others will take action if something similar happens to them.”