Army veteran from Bedford diagnosed with cancer after struggle to get GP appointment

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An army veteran who was initially refused an appointment with his doctor has since been diagnosed with cancer after taking matters into his own hands.

Fitness instructor Lee Webb, 52, tried for weeks to get an appointment with his GP, but was only seen when he turned up at the surgery and refused to leave.

He had been told that GPs were overwhelmed during the Covid-19 pandemic. Mr Webb, from Bedford, was diagnosed with tongue, tonsil and lymph node cancer at the end of February.

Mr Webb said: "I went down there and I was told to leave, I was actually threatened with the police at the time but I refused to leave.

"A nurse then came out to see me. She investigated my mouth. She tried to put a spatula in my mouth but I had limited mouth opening and she said 'you are seeing a doctor tomorrow'."

Mr Webb was diagnosed with stage three cancer and now has only praise for the treatment he has since received from the NHS.

The health group which runs the GP practice apologised for the difficulties Mr Webb experienced but said it had been working under strict Covid guidelines at the time.

Lee Webb will find out if he's cancer free at the end of this month Credit: ITV Anglia

Mr Webb says he still remembers how he felt when he was told he had cancer and still wishes it could have been found earlier.

He said: "I've not experienced that kind of fear in a very, very long time.

"It just goes down from your head all the way to your knees and it really does make your knees wobble.

"And there was that initial fear of how long have I got to live - because I'm really enjoying life."

Mr Webb, who is a father of five, will find out if he is cancer-free at the end of this month and believes there's a strong chance he is.

This week he cycled 100 miles to raise hundreds of pounds for MacMillan Cancer Research.

Duncan Mountford, who trains with Mr Webb, said the former soldier's own determination had been a help with his battle against cancer.

He said: "I think that he's got a fantastically positive outlook generally and we all need that. Whether we're healthy or whether we're ill we all need that positive outlook."

In a statement East Bedford Primary Care Network said: "At the time in question, primary care was following new national instructions around maintaining infection control measures to reduce the risk of Covid infection to staff and patients.

"This meant that patients with symptoms of acute respiratory infection or Covid symptoms were either seen outside a practice or signposted to 111 or A&E.

"Our local walk-in centre team are very pro-active at escalating to a doctor on the day or booking in follow-up appointments if they are concerned about a patient. From what Mr Webb has said, the minor illness nurse correctly escalated his case to a GP.

"We are sorry that he had difficulty getting through to his practice, despite it having a modern cloud-based telephone system at the time that is designed to handle large call volumes."


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