Breast cancer test that came five months too late: Dying mum sues Welsh hospital for £750,000 over diagnosis delay

  • Katie Maytum, 35, noticed lump in left breast in July 2010 and visited GP
  • She was urgently referred to cancer network but case was deemed ‘routine’
  • It was not ‘urgent suspected cancer’ according to a hospital consultant
  • She is now fighting a legal battle due to be heard at High Court tomorrow
  • Her lawyers maintain consultant Vummiti Muralikrishnan was negligent
  • It is expected that he will say the case was ‘reasonably downgraded’ 
Katie Maytum is suing NHS Wales for £750,000 after she discovered a lump in her breast but was told it was not 'urgent'

Katie Maytum is suing NHS Wales for £750,000 after she discovered a lump in her breast but was told it was not ‘urgent’

A young mother dying from breast cancer says a long delay before seeing a consultant has left her too ill to be cured.

Katie Maytum, 35, is suing an under-fire Welsh NHS health board for £750,000 over her five-and-a-half month wait to be diagnosed, despite her GP’s urgent referral.

She went to her family doctor in July 2010 after finding a lump in her left breast, and was fast-tracked for an appointment with a cancer specialist.

But Vummiti Muralikrishnan, a consultant surgeon at the Princess of Wales Hospital in Bridgend, South Wales, downgraded her to a ‘routine’ case.

Miss Maytum, from Maesteg, should have been seen by a specialist within a fortnight of her GP’s urgent referral under guidelines drawn up by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence.

Instead, she had to wait until January 2011 for her appointment. On that day, an ultrasound scan revealed she had cancer.

The terminally ill mother, who was training as a mental health nurse, had surgery and chemotherapy.

But in April this year she was told she has only 18 months to live.

She has a daughter, Megan, and a son, Zac, and is due to marry her partner this month. Her lawyers will argue at a High Court hearing in Cardiff today that the delay in her diagnosis and treatment contributed to her developing advanced cancer.

They will claim that Mr Muralikrishnan was negligent in downgrading her case so it was not treated as ‘urgent suspected cancer’.

He says his decision was reasonable.

Miss Maytum’s grandmother and several great-aunts also suffered from breast cancer, but her family history of the disease was not noted on the referral form from the GP, it is claimed.

In court documents, her lawyers allege that ‘as a result of the negligence (of the health board) she has been deprived of a cure for her cancer.

‘Alternatively she has or is likely to suffer a loss of years of life which… is in the region of 44 years.’

NHS Wales admits that, under the hospital’s own rules, Miss Maytum should have been given an appointment within three months.

But it argues that instead of following the Nice guidelines, it used its own alternative set of rules that allow urgent referrals to be downgraded and do not require patients with suspected cancer to be seen within a fortnight.

A consultant at the Princess of Wales Hospital in Bridgend, South Wales (pictured), downgraded her to a ‘routine’ case. NHS Wales admits Miss Maytum should’ve been given an appointment within three months

The Princess of Wales Hospital, run by Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University Health Board, is at the heart of an police investigation into alleged neglect of vulnerable patients.

The board could not be reached for response yesterday.

The British Medical Association says the under-fire Labour-run NHS is facing ‘imminent meltdown’, but the Welsh Government said yesterday the latest figures showed that 85.1 per cent of cancer patients in Wales were treated within 62 days, compared with 83.5 per cent in England.

A spokesman added: ‘We are determined to ensure every person in Wales gets the best quality care they need.’

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