HOSPITAL bosses have apologised to a woman with a history of cancer after she was told funding problems meant she could be denied a potentially lifesaving test.

Helen Feldon, 38, from Ingleby Barwick, near Stockton, lives in fear of ovarian cancer because she has a gene that puts her at risk of developing the disease.

Last November, she went to the University Hospital of North Tees, in Stockton, for an abdominal ultrasound scan and blood test designed to detect any signs of ovarian cancer.

A month later, when she opened a letter from her consultant, she was horrified to discover that her blood sample had not been processed and that the test could be discontinued because of financial difficulties in the NHS.

In the letter, consultant gynaecologist Dr Anne Ryall wrote: "The laboratory, for some reason, did not process your blood result in November, but I think this can wait until your next round of screening.

"There may be issues over the next few months about whether or not this Trust will fund screening, or at least whether your local PCT will agree to fund it and we will agree to carry on doing it."

An angry and upset Miss Feldon, who survived breast cancer five years ago, contacted The Northern Echo, yesterday.

And last night, the North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Trust apologised to Miss Feldon, offered to retest her and assured other women in the same situation that the ovarian cancer blood test would continue to be offered.

The spokeswoman denied that financial difficulties at the trust had threatened future blood tests for ovarian cancer and described the failure to process Miss Feldon's test as an oversight.

Last Tuesday, the trust announced a programme of spending cuts aimed at saving £10.4m next year. Officials believe the trust is heading for an overspend of at least £13m at the end of the current financial year.

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