Five month wait for cancer scare patient


A patient has hit out at the healthcare system after being forced to wait almost five months to find out whether or not he has cancer.

But Lister Hospital says that a breakdown in communication was to blame for the delay, and says it was not aware that Clive was facing a cancer scare.

Clive Lombari, 62, of St Peter’s Avenue in Arlesey, noticed patches of discoloured skin on his forehead while holidaying in late August.

He contacted his GP immediately on returning and, at an appointment on September 1, was told that his doctor suspected it was skin cancer.

A referral was sent to Lister Hospital and Clive, who has already survived prostate cancer and a tumour on his spine, began the anxious wait for his diagnosis.

But two months later he had heard nothing.

He explained: “In the end I said ‘I’m going to chase this up myself’. After being give the run around I finally got through to the right person. I said right away that I was waiting to hear if I had cancer. I told the woman on the phone ‘Can you imagine how I feel? I want to know one way or another’.”

But Clive was told the letter was in the hands of the dermatologist, and nothing could be done at that time.

Frustrated, Clive made a second appointment with his GP, this time seeing a locum doctor who asked the Arlesey Health Centre receptionist to call Lister Hospital.

He was assured that he would be seen by the end of December.

But just before Christmas, with the end of the month in sight, there had still been no contact.

Once again, he headed to the health centre and this time was referred to Hertford County Hospital.

Hereford contacted him within two weeks, with an appointment for January 28.

Clive said: “I still haven’t heard anything from Lister. It makes me very angry. I thought if they suspected cancer, they would see me quickly. I’m angry with the hospital, but I’m not impressed with the health centre either.”

A spokesman for Lister Hospital said: “We have reviewed again the original referral made by Mr Lombari’s GP, in which no mention is made of suspected skin cancer. If that had been the case, then we would have arranged to see Mr Lombari within two weeks of referral. His referral was vetted by a consultant dermatologist who agreed that based on the clinical information provided, Mr Lombari should be seen for a routine appointment.

“We do accept, however, that Mr Lombari has waited longer than he should have for a date. This was caused, in part, by the Trust carrying consultant dermatologist vacancies at the moment, for which getting reliable locum cover is difficult whilst we are out to recruit new consultants to these posts.”