Allegations that 55 patients at the Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust were given extra-strong chemotherapy treatment between 2005 and 2009 have been brushed aside by the trust, which denies that any patient suffered harm.
The patients, aged between 49 and 83, were all suffering with colorectal cancer, which is usually treated with a combination of chemotherapy and radiotherapy for a month, before a break of 6-12 weeks before surgery. Many of the patients were treated at the New Cross Hospital in Wolverhampton.
They received a stronger-than-normal drug combination called Folfox, and many also had several weeks of extra chemotherapy, causing severe nausea, a loss of fertility and a higher risk of fatal infection. The Care Quality Commission looked into the treatment after a whistleblower, another doctor who worked for the Trust, raised concerns. The whistleblower, who has not been publicly named, has since left the Trust.
Professor Sir Mike Richards, chief inspector of hospitals at the CQC, said the trust commissioned a report in 2014, which found “there had been unsatisfactory practice but that with one exception this had resulted in no long-term harm.” The CQC carried out another inspection in June this year and found that chemotherapy services were safe.
The Trust said it “did not recognise” the CQC’s statement that one patient suffered long-term harm. A spokesman added: “The doctors who gave non-standard treatments were genuinely trying to achieve better outcomes for patients. The trust has not received any complaints.”
The two doctors, Dr Margaret King and Dr Mark Churn, who prescribed the treatment are still treating cancer patients, but in line with conventional guidelines. Dr Churn is based at Worcestershire Royal Hospital’s oncology centre and Dr King is still working at New Cross.
Sarah Sutton, Associate at Medical Accident Group, said: “While doctors will obviously vary treatment according to an individual’s circumstances, experimentation of any kind must remain within laboratories or carefully-controlled clinical trials where all participants have full information about what treatment they are receiving. The fact that the unconventional treatment was stopped after concerns were raised indicates that it was clearly unwarranted; patients treated by these doctors during this period may well have suffered quite unnecessarily.”
If you were treated by either of these two doctors within the Trust between 2005 and 2009 and have concerns about your treatment, Medical Accident Group can help. Our experienced and sympathetic team, whose knowledge of clinical negligence and personal injury law is extensive, can support you through the process of making a claim and seeking justice. We can advise on issues from brain injury or birth injury to surgical and medical errors and accidents at work. Call us free on 0800 050 1668.