A PENSIONER has died of skin cancer after claiming doctors sent him home with paracetamol for an orange-sized lump on his head.
George Hobbs, from Gillingham, Kent, suffered a fall on his wife’s funeral last August and left with a wound on the back of his skull.
The 89-year-old went to hospital to be treated for the cut at the time but over the following months it developed into a large growth.
George tried to ignore the black, egg-sized lump but the pain eventually became too much and he went to see his doctor in February this year.
The retired civil servant claimed the GP sent him off with some paracetamol three times before finally referring him specialists.
He was eventually diagnosed with skin cancer in May but died on July 25.
His grieving daughter Clare Hobbs, 32, now wants to know why he was never prescribed medication and why it took medics so long to help him.
She said: “There have been failures on a lot of people’s parts.
“Towards the end he’d spend a lot of time lying down as that’s when it was at its least painful.
“He hardly went out because he was embarrassed.
“He filed all his documents and when I went through them after his death I found a note which read ‘please help me it’s so painful’. That was heartbreaking.
“I just want someone to take responsibility. He was miserable and he did not deserve that.”
AFter his death I found a note which read ‘please help me it’s so painful’. That was heartbreaking
Speaking a week before his death, George said he was having to sleep on a folded towel as the mass was bleeding.
He explained how he had slipped in his daughter’s bathroom and cut his head open and that after patching him up, doctors sent him home.
The wound gradually grew in size, and when he eventually went to the doctor at The Railside Surgery it was the size of an egg and growing.
After the GP sent him home with painkillers, he said, he tried to deal with it as best he could, but the lump kept getting larger and more painful.
He claimed the advice was repeated at two further visits until a new doctor sent him to see dermatology experts at the Community Living Health Centre in Gillingham, who referred him to Queen Victoria Hospital.
Medics there arranged for Mr Hobbs to see a specialist during a weekly visit to Medway Maritime Hospital.
The grandfather-of-three said he was later told by a specialist that he urgently needed to go under the knife.
Signs and symptoms of skin cancer
Changes to a mole or freckle can be a sign of skin cancer, which is why it’s so important to see your doctor straight away.
The most common sign of skin cancer is a change to a mole, freckle or normal patch of skin.
It’s important to know your skin and what it looks like normally so you notice any unusual or persistent changes.
Use a mirror, or ask your partner or a friend to check the areas of your skin that you can’t see.
Symptoms of basal cell carcinoma
Basal cell carcinoma (BCC) are more likely to develop on skin that is regularly exposed to the sun, especially on the face, head and neck.
- be smooth and pearly
- look waxy
- appear as a firm, red lump or may look sunken in the middle
- appear as a pearly brown or black lump if you have darker skin
- feel itchy and bleed sometimes
- develop a crust or scab
- begin to heal but never completely heal
- look like a flat, red spot that is scaly and crusty
- look like a pale non-healing scar
- develop into a painless ulcer
Symptoms of squamous cell carcinoma
SCCs usually develop in areas that have been damaged by sun exposure. In people with pale skin, they are mainly found on the face, neck, bald scalps, arms, backs of hands and lower legs.
In people with darker or black skin, SCCs are more likely to affect areas that have less or no sun exposure. These include the lower legs, torso, genitals or areas where there has been long-term scarring, for example after a burn.
- look scaly
- have a hard, crusty scab
- look pink or red
- make the skin raised in the area of the cancer
- feel tender to touch
- bleed sometimes
Earlier this year, he said: “I’m furious that they didn’t take this seriously to start with. It’s really causing me a lot of discomfort.
“The specialist at Medway told me I should never have been told to take paracetamol for it.
“They were amazed it had been allowed to get this bad and said I should have been sent to them immediately.”
George, who had also been recovering from bladder cancer, was worried about going under the knife again.
He added: “They’re worried because it’s not clear how deep it goes.
I’m furious that they didn’t take this seriously to start with
“They say if it’s grown upwards they should be able to remove it but if it’s grown downwards it’s more serious.
“I really am very apprehensive and haven’t been able to sleep very well.
“They say they should be able to see me at East Grinstead in the next week.”
After a number of rearranged appointments, an operation was eventually scheduled for July 5.
But after being sick on the journey to East Grinstead’s Queen Victoria Hospital, which provides specialist skin cancer care, he was sent home.
He passed away a few weeks later.
A complaint Mr Hobbs made to Medway Clinical Commissioning Group and NHS England was today still being investigated.
MORE ON SKIN CANCER
Director of primary care transformation Tracy Rouse said: “We are very sorry to hear of Mr Hobbs’ death and would like to offer our condolences to his family and friends.
“Complaints about primary care, which includes GP surgeries, are handled by NHS England and we understand they received a complaint from Mr Hobbs.”
She added NHS England was looking into concerns raised.
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