Doctors ‘missed taxi driver’s liver cancer 32 times in two-and-a-half years’

In In The News by Barbara Jacoby

Thumbnail for 10041Doctors have been accused of failing to diagnose a taxi driver’s liver cancer on 32 occasions over a two-and-a half-year period after refusing to send him for vital scans.

Jean-Robert Chanas, from Mount Vernon, Glasgow, claims he pleaded with doctors repeatedly to send him for a scan, after complaining of crippling abdominal pains.

However, the 67-year-old said they refused each time, and insisted he did not have cancer – instead diagnosing him with musculoskeletal pains which they assured him were harmless.

He was eventually diagnosed with liver cancer in November last year and has since been admitted to Glasgow Royal Infirmary where he was told last week that ‘nothing more can be done’ for him.

He has now hit out at the doctors who ‘overlooked’ him and said he is ‘distraught and angry that I was not listened to’.

He believes more than 30 trips to his GP should have yielded ‘something’, even if it was just the scan he kept calling for to put ‘his mind at rest’.

‘People should know what is going on in the NHS,’ he said.

‘How can cancer be overlooked 32 times?

‘I’m telling my story because I feel people should be told what is going on.

‘If you want a health service you must complain.’

Mr Chanas, who was born in France and has lived in Scotland for more than 40 years, was given chemotherapy in a desperate bid to beat the cancer but has been told nothing more can be done.

Since he started suffering abdominal pains two-and-a-half-years ago, he has kept a detailed record of his repeated trips to the doctor, during which time doctors examined his stomach, gave him X-rays and carried out a colonoscopy and blood tests.

However, he says they failed to send him for the crucial scan which could have spotted his cancer.

He was eventually diagnosed with liver cancer in November last year after consulting a different GP.

She immediately referred him for the CT scan he had spent so long waiting for, telling him his plight ‘had gone on too long’.

His wife Irene now visits him daily in hospital but fears the delays in his diagnosis have ‘robbed him of years of his life’.

The 65-year-old said: ‘When we asked if it was cancer they said “No, not that”. But we thought the abdominal pains were a sign of something more serious.

‘By the time he got treatment we feared it was already too late.

‘It had gone on for so long, doctors did not know where the cancer started.

‘We are devastated and fear my husband has been robbed of years of his life because he was not listened to.’

The couple have logged all their GP and hospital visits and claim they made 24 trips to different GPs at The Cairns Practice in Shettleston, Glasgow, and eight to A&E at Glasgow Royal Infirmary.

Mrs Chanas said: ‘When hospital tests proved negative Jean-Robert would return to our GP and when the pain was desperate we would go to A&E.

‘We want to know if those visits were logged.’

The couple, who have been married for 41 years, met when Mr Chanas worked as a restaurant manager in Drymen, Stirlingshire. They have one son together, 40-year-old Laurent.

Mr Chanas’ family now want him to return to his native France for treatment.

However, his wife said: ‘Sadly, he does not have the strength to do that.

‘I feel if we lived there the cancer would not have been missed. I’m embarrassed and ashamed by how he has been treated by the NHS. It used to be the envy of the world.’

The couple insist his treatment, when he was finally diagnosed, was faultless but Mrs Chanas added: ‘What does it take to be listened to?’.

The couple have now complained to NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde with the help of MSP John Mason.

Mr Chanas’ GP practice has already apologised via Mr Mason for the shocking delay in diagnosing him.

The practice confirmed in a letter that he had seen many GPs and hospital doctors and was examined and investigated through blood tests, a chest X-ray and ultrasound scan of his abdomen.

However, the practice also insisted their investigations were organised ‘appropriately and timeously’.

Last night, Dr Giles Maskell, president of the Royal College of Radiologists, said there was a worrying lack of experts needed to interpret vital scans.

‘Scotland, together with the rest of the UK, has fewer CT and MRI scanners than all other Western European nations,’ he said.

‘Interpretation of complex scans can only be done by a trained radiologist.’

According to Cancer Research UK, liver cancer symptoms include a bloated stomach and yellowing of the skin. The most effective diagnosis comes from CT, ultrasound and MRI scans.

The Scottish Government has an average six-week maximum waiting time for diagnostic tests and health boards have been issued with local targets of four weeks.

Earlier this year it was revealed that the number of patients in Scotland waiting more than a month for potentially lifesaving tests had soared.

Figures revealed the number on the waiting list for vital diagnostic tests that can pick up serious diseases including cancer had risen by 15 per cent in a year (2012/13), from 41,340 to 47,248.

The number waiting more than four weeks had risen from 4,785 to 6,252.

The figures, revealed in a waiting-times report by ISD Scotland, showed the worst hit specialties were CT and MRI scans, barium studies and ultrasounds.

An NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde spokesman said: ‘We carried out a full investigation into Mr Chanas’ care and are satisfied he received the appropriate care from his first attendance at our emergency department in May 2013 until his diagnosis in November 2013.

‘We understand this has been an extremely difficult time for Mr Chanas and his family but the tests which identified his diagnosis could not have been done quicker.’

The GP practice did not respond to requests for a comment.