Patient sues Southmead hospital for 'missing' cervical cancer

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Julie O'Connor
Image caption,
Julie O'Connor was only diagnosed when she went private

A hospital is being sued by a patient whose cervical cancer was missed by its consultants over a three-year period.

Julie O'Connor was referred several times to Bristol's Southmead hospital over concerns with her cervix and persistent bleeding.

But Mrs O'Connor said despite numerous tests and investigations, consultants told her it was not cervical cancer.

North Bristol NHS Trust has apologised to her but says it cannot comment due to the legal action.

Doctors at Southmead diagnosed another condition known as a cervical ectropion.

Mrs O'Connor, from Bristol, had a cervical smear test in Sept 2014 which came back as negative.

The 47-year-old said: "At that time I didn't have any symptoms.

"Only my periods were changing as they weren't as regular but then you think that's your age so that would be normal and the symptoms didn't start until 12 months after that.

"I started bleeding, so I didn't have a period for a year and then I suddenly started bleeding. I did not stop bleeding at all and I bled from 2015 continuously until I was diagnosed."

'I was horrified'

The hospital recommended hormone treatment and a coil to help control the bleeding.

While on a waiting list for another test known as a cervical ablation, where cells are burned off the womb, Mrs O'Connor opted to make use of her private healthcare and saw a consultant who immediately diagnosed cervical cancer.

"He told me the growth was 4.5cm. I was horrified," she said.

Dr Chris Burton, medical director at the trust, said: "We have recently shared with Mrs O'Connor our review relating to her care and would like to reiterate the apologies we made to her.

"Our relevant healthcare staff are keen to meet to discuss any concerns or queries which remain and to apologise in person."

The hospital trust has accepted it was negligent since 2014 when Mrs O'Connor was first referred to Southmead.

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