Published by BBC NEWS - 5th June 2023
  • Published
Charlie PuplettImage source, Charlie Puplett

A woman whose GP failed to diagnose her with colon cancer for a year, says she now has “problems trusting anyone”.

Charlie Puplett, 45, from Yeovil, Somerset, first expressed concerns about unexplained weight loss and a lack of appetite to her GP in May 2019.

Failing to test her for colon cancer, she was not diagnosed until almost a year later, after vomiting blood.

The NHS trust in question has been approached by the Press Association for comment.

The Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO) said her symptoms should have been “red flags”.

Ms Puplett, who also went to the doctors with concerns over a change in bowel habits, said: “I kept going back to the practice and they just fobbed me off.

“They didn’t listen to me at all. I saw a different doctor each time, one of whom suggested I had anorexia and was in denial.”

Charlie Puplett

Image source, Charlie Puplett

The PHSO said her symptoms should have led to urgent testing within two weeks and she had been “failed” by her doctors.

Ms Puplett said: “It all came to a head one evening when, after standing outside clapping for the NHS workers, I vomited blood.

“I was taken to A&E and diagnosed with colon cancer. I was very frightened and just kept saying ‘no, it can’t be’.”

As a results of her delayed treatment, Ms Puplett underwent an emergency operation to two-thirds of her colon and had a temporary colostomy bag.

The PSHO said if she had been referred appropriately, she would have had a keyhole procedure, rather than emergency surgery and the colostomy bag.

Now in remission, Ms Puplett said she lived in “constant fear” that she would develop other life-threatening illnesses.

“I don’t want this to happen to anybody else,” she added.

Charlie Puplett

Image source, Charlie Puplett

The surgery was recommended by the ombudsman to pay Ms Puplett £2,950 for its failure and put in place an action plan to prevent the same from happening again.

Ombudsman Rob Behrens said: “Charlie was failed by the professionals who she went to for help and the effect on her life has been significant.

“Not only did she have to undergo unnecessary surgery, but it has also affected her emotional wellbeing.

“We cannot change what happened, but it’s important that when mistakes are made, organisations acknowledge what has happened and commit to learning from these mistakes to prevent it from happening again.”

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