A mother who developed cervical cancer after bungling doctors wrongly told her an abnormal smear test was clear has won undisclosed damages.
Rachael Foley, 43, had to have a hysterectomy and cancerous cells removed in 2017 when a routine test discovered “high grade” abnormalities.
A review of her smear test from 2014 revealed the mum-of-one, from Cannock, Staffs., had been given the wrong results.
Shockingly, another woman was also wrongly told her test was negative and is now terminally ill.
University Hospitals of North Midlands NHS Trust (UHNM) admitted a breach of duty and have paid undisclosed sums to both women.
Mrs Foley, who is married to husband Mark and has an eight-year-old son, Lewis, said: “I had always attended routine smears and had no reason to think anything other than what the results said.
“To be told that my previous result was abnormal came as a shock; but then to be told I had cancer and go on to have a hysterectomy was absolutely devastating.
“Before my diagnosis I had such a happy and fulfilling life but coming to terms with my diagnosis and what it meant, not only for me but also Mark and my family, was difficult.
“We’re blessed to have the most beautiful little boy in Lewis.
“We sometimes talked about having another child but it was something we hadn’t decided.
“Ultimately it felt like that decision was taken away from us because of something that could have been avoided which is heartbreaking.
“I can’t thank Mark and my family enough for all the support they have given me over the past few years.
“Even though my results were misreported it’s vital that women attend regular smears.
“I just hope that by sharing my story I can help others and show that support is available.”
The transport manager had undergone four routine tests as part of the screening programme between 2007 and 2014, all of which were classed as negative.
She attended a follow up smear in June 2017, which showed evidence of ‘high-grade’ abnormal cells.
She underwent surgery to remove the cells. Following further tests, she was diagnosed with cervical cancer the following month.
After being declared free from cancer last year, Mrs Foley instructed solicitors Irwin Mitchell to investigate the 2014 blunder.
They discovered that if she had undergone earlier treatment to remove the cells she would almost certainly not have developed cervical cancer.
A lawyer for the second woman, a Staffordshire mother in her 30s, said she had also developed cervical cancer but was now dying.
Mrs Foley added: “To find out that another woman younger than me is in a situation where it’s life-threatening, is upsetting.”
Mark Cawley, who represented Mrs Foley, said: “The last few years for Rachael, and trying to come to term with her cancer diagnosis, have been incredibly difficult not only for her but the rest of her family.
“The effects of what happened will stay with Rachael for a long time. Worrying issues have been identified in Rachael’s case and it’s important that lessons are learned to improve patient safety.
“However, it’s also vital that there’s not a loss of confidence in the screening programme and women continue to attend appointments.
“Early detection and treatment is key to beating cancer.”
Dr John Oxtoby, medical director at UHNM, said: “I would like to express my sincere regret and apologies to any patients who have been affected by the misreading of cervical screening results.
“We investigate all incidents and share the findings in full with patients and use these to continue to improve services we provide.”