BY JAMES TWOMEY
A man who was told his blood tests were normal three times in one week has missed out on four months of cancer treatment after the significance of his results were missed by four doctors.
Andrew Evans, 57, was told by the doctors at the Ferryview Health Centre in Woolwich that his PSA levels – indicators of cancerous cells – were “absolutely fine”, even though Mr Evans knew they were dangerous for a patient in his position.
Mr Evans, from Blackheath, had his prostate gland removed in 2011 when he was diagnosed with prostate cancer, and its successful removal led doctors to give him the all-clear.
After a blood test in December, the results showed Mr Evans’ PSA levels had risen but he was not told until a check up in April.
Mr Evans claims that rises in PSA levels are extremely worrying for someone who has had their prostate gland removed, and he should have been immediately informed of this increase by his doctor, Dr Vanessa Yarwood who had ordered the blood tests.
Mr Evans says when he questioned the doctor giving him his results, Dr Kelvin Ung, he was reassured that there was nothing wrong.
Mr Evans said: “After 15 minutes or so of me telling this doctor that a 0.2 per cent rise in PSA levels for me is very dangerous and I should have been told about it right away, he had a look on his computer and saw a note that said ‘if this patient’s PSA levels rise he should be referred to Guy’s and St Thomas’ Hospital immediately’.
“He then apologised profusely and ordered me a fast-track appointment to have another round of tests at Guy’s and St Thomas’.”
Mr Evans received a phone call from a Dr Sophie Walker and was again told that he was fine, even though Dr Ung had already apologised for the mistake.
Three days later Mr Evans went to collect his new results from the practice and was told again by the practice worker on the desk that his results were fine, the practice worker was given this information by a Dr Cashel Norcliffe.
Mr Evans asked to speak to a doctor at the time but was told that would not be possible. One hour later Mr Evans received a phone call from the duty doctor at the practice and was told his results were in fact “a significant event”.
Mr Evans said: “I couldn’t believe it. I had to convince the doctor that my test results were a problem and was told two more times that I was fine only to be told that my results were of significantly concern.
“I went to Guy’s and St Thomas for the tests and they confirmed that my cancer had returned. I’ve lost four months of potential treatment and my prognosis looks uncertain.
“What I’m worried about is other patients. I want other people at that practice to be aware of what’s happening there and that they don’t have a cross-referencing system for someone who has had their prostate removed and is getting high PSA levels.”
Mr Evans added: “In my view other patients are not safe at this surgery until they can assure they have a new process of checking PSA levels.
“My next consultant was absolutely dumbfounded that this could have happened. If I hadn’t insisted on the first doctor showing me my results it would’ve been at least another year until I found out.”
Mr Evans says he has an aggressive form of prostate cancer and for someone whose cancer has spread beyond the prostate area, it becomes terminal.
An NHS spokeswoman said: “NHS Greenwich CCG is unable to comment on this case. “We are committed to commissioning high quality, safe and effective health services.
“If someone is dissatisfied with their care from a Greenwich GP practice, they can raise this formally with the practice and or with NHS England.”
Mr Evans opened a formal complaint with the surgery on April 4 and received a response on May 21 in which the four doctors admitted they had missed the significance of the results and apologised.
But Mr Evans believes the response does not give the full picture as Dr Ung does not mention that he had to be told repeatedly by Mr Evans that there was a problem with his results.
Mr Evans said: “I advise patients at this surgery that have had a prostate gland removed to seek urgent blood test results from another practice, including families of anyone who has died from prostate cancer.
“How can you have the most common cancer for men and no system for catching it? You wouldn’t think it could happen now.”
The surgery have said they are now implementing new procedures to prevent this from happening again and will perform an audit of patients with a history of prostatectomy.
After the complaints procedure was completed by the Ferryview Health Centre Partner for Complaints, Dr Johnson D’Souza, the practice said: “Due to patient confidentiality issues, the practice is unable to provide any comments.”