A Newcastle woman, whose terminal breast cancer was dismissed by medical professionals as hay fever has received a huge settlement.

 The 64-year-old retired social worker, who preferred not to be named, suffered a "litany of medical negligence errors" at Hexham Hospital, delaying her terminal breast cancer diagnosis and treatment. 

Delayed and missed treatments may have meant that the Newcastle woman had a belated diagnosis of metastatic breast cancer, after the cancer had already spread to her lungs.

Now, she finds it "hard to trust people" after being "badly let down" by medical professionals who could have spotted signs of her worsening illness. 

She has received a large out-of-court settlement from Northumbria Healthcare NHS Trust. Claims of medical negligence were not proven in court. 

The Trust could not comment due to patient confidentiality. 

In 2005, the woman was diagnosed with breast cancer at North Tyneside General Hospital in North Shields.

A year later, the now 64-year-old was put on a course of Tamoxifen as part of her treatment programme. Her lawyers have argued that this treatment was ended too early, but this claim was never proven in court. 

It has also been claimed that the patient's menopausal levels were not checked, and she wasn’t prescribed a hormone inhibitor, which should have been standard procedure for her condition.

When she went to her GP in 2017 with breathing issues, her "concerns were dismissed", and she was misdiagnosed with hay fever. Later that year, a chest X-ray showed shadowing but the woman's legal team allege that staff at Hexham Hospital failed to follow it up. 

In 2018, the former social worker's condition worsened, and she began experiencing severe pain. Consequently, she ended up back in hospital, where she was diagnosed with terminal metastatic breast cancer, which meant that the cancer had spread to her lungs.

She has outlived her terminal diagnosis by some margin, thanks in part to a hormone inhibitor that she has been taking.

The woman instructed national law firm, Thompsons Solicitors, to launch a clinical negligence claim for compensation. Following detailed negotiations and the issue of court proceedings, the firm secured a significant payout.

The "catalogue of errors" made by a series of medical professionals has had a profound impact on her.

The woman said: “It’s very emotional reflecting back on what I have had to experience. I find it hard to trust people now. I’m always questioning the decisions I make feeling I have no control over my life.

“I also think about all the other people who have been victims of medical negligence, but don’t know it. I feel upset at how I was dealt with. It seemed that staff were trying to soften me up during discussions with them about my situation, so as to not speak up about negligence and seek justice.

“Thompsons has given me brilliant support and legal advice. My solicitor, Fiona, has shown great sensitivity in dealing with my case. She has kept me well-informed about legal proceedings and made herself available to answer any questions I had.”

Fiona Belgian, a medical negligence expert at Thompsons Solicitors, said: "This has been a hugely distressing ordeal for our client. The catalogue of medical errors is truly shocking.

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“She was badly let down by NHS Trusts in the North East. Every medical professional has a duty of care towards their patients. No one should be exposed to medical negligence, but unfortunately, our client is not alone in this regard – there are many other victims in the UK.

“I commend her on the resilience and bravery she has shown. Not just in dealing with her diagnosis and treatment, but also in pursuing this case and allowing it to be publicised, so that other women with a breast cancer diagnosis make sure that they look into the treatment properly and don’t go through what she has.

“We’re pleased that we could secure the settlement for her. We hope this can provide some financial security, so that she can move on with her life.”

A spokesperson from Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust said: “Due to patient confidentiality, we are unable to comment on individual patient care.”