Woman, 27, died of cancer after five months of trying to see GP face-to-face
She underwent a series of virtual appointments that failed to spot her tumour
The mother of a young woman who died just three-and-a-half weeks after being diagnosed with cancer after five-months of virtual appointments has said she may still be alive today if she had been seen by a GP face-to-face.
Jessica Brady, who was just 27, passed away in December from liver cancer.
Over the course of several months she saw various GPs via virtual appointments, all of which failed to spot her tumour.
Her mother, Andrea, told the Health and Social Care Committee on Tuesday that her daughter was repeatedly denied an in-person appointment after first complaining of abdominal pain in summer 2020.
She said that Jessica was diagnosed with a kidney infection "in the absence of any diagnostic testing or any physical examination at all" and was prescribed antibiotics.
When her symptoms got worse, she was simply prescribed more antibiotics, along with steroids and an inhaler.
MPs heard that a set of blood tests revealed the 27-year-old had high D-dimer levels, a potential sign of solid cancers.
Even when further tests highlighted concerns about her liver function, medics decided to wait six weeks, with doctors failing to put "the pieces of the jigsaw together."
By the time Jessica's cancer was diagnosed, it had spread around her body and was untreatable.
Andrea told the committee: "I think the most important thing is we feel, and Jess felt, that no one listened, no one took it seriously and more than anything, she needed a permitted face-to-face appointment really early on, with people making notes.
"And also, during all that time, she wasn’t seen by one designated doctor, four different doctors spoke to Jess and prescribed her medication. And we think that was really key."
Dr Richard Roope, clinical adviser for cancer at the Royal College of General Practitioners, described Jessica's case as the "mother of all learning events," but added that all GPs would do more "if we had more time and if there were more GPs."
He told MPs: "To state obvious, no GP gets up in morning to miss a diagnosis.
"We are there to help our patients and to enable access to the best treatment and diagnostics in a timely fashion and I think we can do things better than what has happened.
"And I think the narrative that we’ve heard is in a way a manifestation of essentially demand outstripping supply.
"That all GPs could do more if we had more time and if there was more GPs we could give more time to each patient."
On Tuesday, Health Secretary Sajid Javid told the House of Commons that whilst "everyone can understand" why GPs "couldn't provide access in a normal way" during the pandemic, doctors must now follow society in going back to "completely normal" life.
Recent data from NHS Digital showed 57.2 percent of appointments in July were conducted face-to-face.
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