Sussex widower claims wife died after late cancer diagnosis because she couldn't see GP face-to-face

Watch report by ITV Meridian's James Dunham

A widower whose wife died after a cancer diagnosis believes she could have been saved if she had been able to see a doctor face-to-face during the pandemic.

Raymond Gower's wife Trish, 74, was unable to see a GP in person for months due to Covid restrictions before she received a devastating lung cancer diagnosis.

The grieving 74-year-old told ITV News Meridian he believes being unable to see a doctor in person during lockdown ultimately led to Trish's death.

She developed a cough last February, but because of Covid restrictions, she didn't get to see her GP face-to-face initially.

It was only when the couple phoned the GP for a third time, after Trish developed lumps in her throat, that she was offered an in-person appointment.

She was diagnosed with lung cancer, and passed away four days before her 75th birthday in July 2021.

Raymond said: "At the end of January and beginning of February, Trisha developed a cough but we didn't take a great deal of notice of it, because she often had a winter cough of that nature.

"But it became persistent enough for us to contact the doctor. She then started to get short of breath, to the point where she couldn't even walk to the shops at the end of the road.”

“As time passed some lumps appeared in her neck, so I phoned the doctor again, and she was then examined. We were then referred to the (Ear Nose and Throat) department at hospital. The specialist there suggested she should have a scan.

"She went for the scan and some days later, the result revealed she had lung cancer."

A PET scan later revealed Trish had Ovarian cancer, which had spread to her lungs.

Raymond Gower:

In a statement, a spokesperson for Sussex Commissioners said, “Our sincere condolences are with Mr Gower and his family on the sad passing of his wife.

“Face to face appointments have remained available in Sussex throughout the pandemic and we would always encourage patients to speak to their GP practice if they have any concerns about their health, especially a new concern.

“We would encourage Mr Gower to contact us directly to discuss his concerns.”

Raymond Gower and his wife Trish

Raymond added, "My wife was a fighter so she was prepared to fight.

"The fact that they diagnosed her over the phone is largely due to her premature death.

"I have no doubt about that we lost anything between three to four months before her treatment began. It's a practice that has to stop. You can't diagnose people over the phone. It's appalling.

"We spent the last seven days, both my wife and I 24-7 together in a hospice and she finally passed away on the 26th of July."

Richard Pugh, Macmillan Cancer Support

Richard Pugh from Macmillan Cancer Support said, "Unfortunately since Covid has come to light, cancer has gone down the pecking order.

"We hear stories like this on too frequent a basis, and it's quite worrying, not just for us as a charity, but for the general public.

"We need to make sure cancer is still top of the agenda for health.