Home U.K Young woman, 27, died after five month fight to see GP in...

Young woman, 27, died after five month fight to see GP in person


Jessica Brady, 27, from Stevenage, Hertfordshire, died on December 20 after battling liver cancer. She had complained of abdominal pain five months prior and underwent a series of virtual appointments, but her tumour went undetected.

Mum Andrea said: “Jess was a very gentle, sweet person, but she really did attribute her late diagnosis to the slow reaction of her GP surgery.”

She told the Health and Social Care Committee on Tuesday that Jessica was repeatedly denied an in-person appointment and was not tested or examined at all.

Jessica was diagnosed with a kidney infection at first, and when her symptoms worsened, she was prescribed antibiotics, steroids and an inhaler.

Eventually, a set of blood tests revealed Jessica had high D-dimer levels, which can be a signal of solid cancers. Further tests then highlighted concerns about her liver function, but doctors decided to wait six weeks to see what happened.

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Andrea revealed Jessica was only seen in person by a GP when she called her local surgery more than 20 times, and it was not until she sought private health care that she was diagnosed with stage four cancer of the lungs, bones, spine and liver.

Jessica went to hospital on the day of her diagnosis and died three and a half weeks later.

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.

Jessica’s parents are now calling for a cancer specialist in every doctor’s surgery, a dedicated GP for each patient and a public health campaign on the warning signs of cancer in young people.

In response to Jessica’s case, Dr Richard Roope, clinical adviser for cancer at the Royal College of General Practitioners, told MPs: “In general practice, we talk about learning events, and this is the mother of all learning events.

“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.”

It comes as the Health Secretary Sajid Javid said on Tuesday that “everyone can understand” why GPs “couldn’t provide access in the normal way” during the peak of the pandemic.

He added that “we are way past that now” and doctors should be following society in going back to “completely normal” life.

In memory of her daughter, Andrea has started a petition aimed at improving the awareness and diagnosis of cancer in young adults. It can be found here.

Additional reporting by Alahna Kindred.

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