Wigan patient’s fury after surgery as he says ‘doctors did not listen’

A cancer survivor who was taken to hospital several times with what doctors said was a chest infection is furious after being left breathing through a pipe.

Friday, 25th June 2021, 4:55 am
Mark Lowe
Mark Lowe

Mark Lowe was diagnosed with throat cancer in March 2019 and received 16 doses of radiotherapy.

He was discharged and given the all-clear in May last year, but still had health problems to battle.

Mr Lowe, who lives in Ince, said: “I was feeling quite fine, but I was still suffering from side effects. I couldn’t swallow. They put me on a milkshake and that’s all I was having. I lost a lot of weight.”

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The problems continued and led to the 55-year-old being taken to Wigan Infirmary’s A&E department several times last month.

Each time doctors told Mr Lowe he had a chest infection and he was discharged.

He said: “They kept taking me into hospital and put it down to a chest infection.

“I wasn’t coughing, I wasn’t wheezing. I could breathe out but I couldn’t breathe in and it was starving me of oxygen.

“An ambulance crew came out and they examined me. They said it wasn’t a chest infection. They decided to get me to hospital straight away.

“I went into hospital, I was on the trauma ward and I couldn’t get my breath. I said, ‘Please help me or I will die.’”

Medics said his oxygen levels were fine and provided other treatment, but it did not work and Mr Lowe was taken to surgery that same day.

They found his windpipe was constricted and he was not getting enough oxygen, so a tracheotomy was inserted.

That helps him to breathe and has a special valve for when he needs to talk.

Mr Lowe said: “I kept telling them all along it was my windpipe and not a chest infection and they didn’t listen.”

He said the doctor who had been treating him and earlier diagnosed a chest infection apologised.

Mr Lowe now needs the tracheotomy to breathe and will find out next month if it will remain in place permanently.

But he is upset that it has been inserted at all and he was not treated sooner.

Mr Lowe, who has two children and four grandchildren, said: “If they had listened to me from day one, I might not have needed this. I suffer from depression and anxiety and this isn’t helping. I shouldn’t be like this.

“On three separate occasions I told them it wasn’t a chest infection because I could breathe out but not in and now I’m stuck with a pipe in my throat.”

Mr Lowe does not know if the problem with his windpipe is linked to his earlier throat cancer and the radiotherapy he received.

He now plans to make a formal complaint regarding the treatment he received at Wigan Infirmary.

He said: “I feel as if all this was totally unnecessary. If they had listened to me in the first place... I know my own body.”

Mr Lowe said the doctor’s apology was “not enough” and he wants other patients to know what happened in case they are not happy with the diagnosis or treatment provided by medical staff.

The Observer contacted Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, which runs Wigan Infirmary, about Mr Lowe’s experience and concerns about his treatment there.

They explained that all complaints are looked into, but they could not specifically speak about what happened to Mr Lowe.

A spokesman for the trust said: “When a complaint is made, it is always reviewed by our patient relations team who monitor the progress of any investigation, working with the teams involved to investigate issues thoroughly.

“All complaints give us the opportunity to improve our services and we encourage all our patients to provide us with feedback about their experience in order to do so.

“The trust is unable to comment further on an individual case until it has been reviewed.”

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