It took a 10 second internal examination to diagnose Julie O’Connor with advanced cervical cancer, it has been revealed.
In October 2015 the mum-of-two’s GP referred her to Bristol Southmead Hospital’s gynaecology department due to their cancer suspicions.
But time and again it was missed with Julie being misdiagnosed.
In March 2017, Julie decided to go private and get a second opinion, her husband Kevin said.
Neither of them anticipated the news they were given.
After what Kevin recalls as a simple, 10 second internal examination at the Spire, Julie was diagnosed with advanced cervical cancer.
A scan later confirmed the diagnosis.
Kevin told the Daily Mail: "The consultant said that how any competent gynaecologist could have missed it was beyond him.
"We were absolutely shocked."
Julie soon started the first of 16 sessions of both chemo and radiotherapy.
Because the diagnosis had been so long coming the cancer had spread: into her bones and, fatally, her spine and lymph nodes.
In March 2018 she was told it was incurable.
After holding on for as long as she could, Julie died on Monday February 4.
In a video shot just before she died the mum-of-two who worked for the NHS for 13 years, said: “I think it took six attempts for the cancer to be diagnosed. It’s disgusting I have been suffering the way I have and I continue to suffer."
During the video, Julie appears weak and short of breath as she recounts her ordeal to the camera. She died three days after it was shot at St Peter’s Hospice in Bristol.
Julie, of Thornbury, Glos, complained of symptoms in 2014, but a test came back negative.
She added she had numerous biopsies and examinations, but that it was not until three years after the initial diagnosis a private consultant informed her she had cancer.
Husband Kevin then tells the camera doctors failed to diagnose her illness over a period of three years.
"We hold them fully accountable," he says. "The pathologist and the gynaecologist, who had several opportunities to intervene, I hold them responsible, and I do hold the board of directors at North Bristol Trust accountable.
"They put me and Julie through this. What we want to do with this video is to show the board of directors what they’ve done. What they’ve done to me and Julie and our family. And I just hope this doesn’t happen to anybody else. We want a wider review."
Dr Chris Burton, of North Bristol NHS Trust, said: “We are committed to understanding the full circumstances of the care we provided so we can improve our services.
“We’ll be publicly open with the findings of the independent [probe] we’ve commissioned.”
Last year Julie told the Bristol Post that in 2014 was given the all clear, despite that result being wrong.
Three years later, after what Julie describes as a “catalogue of errors”, her cancer spread out of control and became incurable.
“It’s too late now to cure me. I am having chemotherapy and radiotherapy but all they can do is give me palliative care to prolong my life,” Julie said back then.
“If they had caught it back in 2014 or even 2015 it could’ve been a completely different story.
“My main concern now is making sure that other women who had tests back in 2014 and 2015 are aware that if they are having ongoing symptoms or think something is wrong they should challenge the results and get retested,” she added.
Julie sued the hospital and going public with her story had been difficult for her family, especially her two children.
“But they understand that we are trying to help other women who might be given this devastating news,” she said.
“The hospital are saying it is only me whose tests were wrong but they are reluctant to do a wider review of other smears even though we have pleaded with them to.
“The last thing I want to do is put people off having smears, but just to question things if you are having symptoms like I was then challenge it and push it further,” she added.
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