Mrs Jennifer Sherwood (Gilmour) instructed Paul McNeil to handle her claim against Warwick Hospital for the consequences of a delay in diagnosis of cervical cancer which led to her death in January 2013.
In June 2002 Jennifer had a smear test which was abnormal. She attended Warwick Hospital in July 2002 and had a routine procedure to remove pre-cancerous cells. She was told by the attending gynaecologist that the procedure had cured her condition. Following this, she had 8 cervical smear tests between early February 2003 and mid March 2010, all of which were reported as normal.
Watch Don, Jennifers Husband tell their story
At Christmas 2010, she suffered vaginal bleeding. Her GP referred her to the gynaecology team at the Warwick Hospital. On 6 January a biopsy was taken. Sadly it revealed a papillary carcinoma and on 24 January surgical excision of the cervix was performed. Inspection revealed a moderately differentiated squamus cell carcinoma involving the deep and endo-cervical margins. An MRI scan also showed a cervical tumour extending into the vagina and lymph nodes.
Jennifer was extremely upset by the diagnosis but also intellectually curious; she had been cleared for cervical cancer in a smear test which had been performed only 12 months previously; she was concerned about the reason for this. She requested a formal discussion with the Consultant Oncologist and the Head of Pathology at the Warwick Hospital but her questions were fobbed off which made Jennifer extremely angry and even more determined to find out the truth. She felt like she had been treated like a child by the two senior clinicians. This was especially galling given Jennifer's scientific background in bio-chemistry.
In June 2011 Jennifer contacted Paul McNeil who had undertaken a similar case for Debbie Phillips. By this time Jennifer had received chemo-radiotherapy treatment and thought that her cancer had been cured. However in September 2011 she was informed that unfortunately the cancer had spread and that her condition was likely to be terminal. She was for palliative treatment only.
In the meantime Fieldfisher had instructed an expert Pathologist to reconsider the histopathology test carried out in July 2002 and the 8 smear tests which had been performed up to March 2010. Astonishingly, the material from the histopathology showed evidence of cancer and the smear tests carried out in April 2005, June 2006 and March 2010 were all abnormal. These abnormalities should have been reported by the Pathologists at the time. There was clear and strong evidence of repeated medical negligence on part of the Cytopathology Department at the Warwick Hospital.
Jennifer was devastated by these findings. It made her last months very difficult to bear.
Proceedings were issued in August 2012 and following a Defence which admitted liability (for the fist time, the Defendants having had an opportunity to admit before proceedings began), Judgement was entered in December 2012 and the Defendants wrote a letter of apology to Jennifer.
Jennifer had a course of radiotherapy in the latter part of 2012 in an attempt to control the spread of the cancer. There was another shock to the family when her husband Don (they had been married in the previous January) was diagnosed with prostrate cancer in November 2012.
Sadly Jennifer died on 21 January 2013. The cause of her sad death was metastatic cervical cancer. If she had received appropriate treatment from the Warwick Hospital at any time up to the summer of 2010 the cancer would never have developed and Jennifer would be alive and well today.
After lengthy negotiations between the parties the case settled in the sum of £420,000. At the end of the case Don, Jennifer's husband, said:-
"Jennifer did some research … she found Fieldfisher … she found Paul McNeil … she saw that he had experience in this area. The fact that she could speak to Paul and other members of the team and the fact that she was listened to, valued and cared for was a hugely supportive thing. She died in January 2013. Jennifer would be very pleased that there was a strong financial settlement. The settlement is the conclusion to a very painful chapter in my life and I can, at last, put my focus into moving on as Jennifer wanted. The team at Field Fisher Waterhouse have helped that to happen."