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Following the tragic death of Sherwin Hall (28), after NHS diagnosis delays meant his cancer became terminal during the first coronavirus lockdown, Novum Law is continuing to work with Sherwin’s young widow, La’Troya to ensure a lasting legacy for Sherwin.

Mary Smith, associate legal director and patient safety expert, said:

“Before he died, Sherwin asked me to continue his fight to hold Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust to account for failings in his cancer diagnosis and care. It was important to Sherwin – not just for his family, but for the thousands of other cancer patients and their loved ones who have been severely impacted by unacceptable delays to cancer services.

“Along with La’Troya, I am determined to ensure that Sherwin’s legacy is realised. If that means recourse to law, then so be it. The lives of so many others depend on it.”

COVID-19 impact on NHS cancer services

Patients like Sherwin put their trust in the health system, and the NHS has a legal (and moral) duty to ensure they receive appropriate care.

The COVID-19 pandemic resulted in huge challenges for the healthcare sector, particularly for those working on the frontline.

During the first wave of the pandemic, we saw diagnostic tests and treatment cancelled, and patients turned away or unable to access care.

Both the NHS and the newly requisitioned private sector could have done more for non-COVID patients, but the Government and NHS leaders did not do enough to plan and ensure there was adequate resourcing to make this happen.

While things are certainly better in the second wave, cancer patients still face challenges. In Sherwin’s case, his oncologist was co-opted back into the COVID-19 effort three weeks before he died.

Sadly, this meant there were delays in treating a life-threatening infection, and so Sherwin’s further planned chemotherapy treatment could not take place. He died just a week after marrying La Troya in a quiet ceremony at home.

La’Troya speaks out

Speaking about the loss of her husband, La’Troya Hall said:

“I am devastated. I have lost the love of my life. If Sherwin’s cancer had been found earlier, it is likely he would still be here today with our beautiful eight-month-old son and me. I know he would want me to do everything I can to prevent other families from suffering the pain and anguish we have had to endure.

“It worries me that the Government and NHS leaders continue to say cancer services are back to normal; our family’s experience has been that, even now, this is not the case. There needs to be accountability for this.”

Legal help for diagnosis and treatment delays

Novum Law’s team of specialist medical negligence solicitors have seen a considerable increase in the number of cancer patients and their families seeking legal advice. They not only want answers and accountability, but many of them want help accessing the treatment they so desperately need.

Mary continued:

“Many thousands of cancer patients have been severely affected by delays in diagnosis and treatment. The number of cases we are seeing is already running into triple figures. I fear this is the tip of the iceberg and the real impact of the cancer backlog and the devastating human toll, will emerge in the months and years to come.

“Cancer services being back to ‘usual’ capacity levels are just not enough to remove the significant logjam of patients waiting for essential treatment. All cancer services need to be operating at well over 100% to clear the backlog and address the increased treatment needs of patients whose cancer has worsened due to the delays.

“This means more resourcing from the Government and NHS leaders to fully utilise the existing capacity both in the public and requisitioned private sector. The clock is ticking to save lives. A lot of time has already been lost through poor planning and facilities shamefully lying idle. We can and must do better – peoples’ lives depend upon it.”

La’Troya added:

“The Government and NHS managers need to sit up and recognise that UK cancer services are in crisis. The health service needs to tackle the cancer backlog. For many cancer patients, like my husband Sherwin, it is a matter of life or death. All the stops must be pulled out so the NHS can catch up with cancer once and for all.”

Contact Novum Law today

If you or a family member has suffered during the COVID-19 pandemic either because of diagnosis delays or because your medical treatment has been delayed, paused, or cancelled, our specialist medical negligence lawyers can provide expert legal advice.

For a FREE, no-obligation chat about what options are available to you call us today on Freephone 0800 884 0777, email info@novumlaw.com or fill in our online enquiry form.