Grieving Portsmouth family of Porsche McGregor-Sims ‘robbed’ over QA locum’s failure to spot ‘very, very’ rare cancer

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THE family of a young woman who died from a rare fast-spreading cancer have told a Queen Alexandra Hospital locum doctor: your misdiagnosis robbed us of precious time with our loved one.

Porsche McGregor-Sims, 27, from Portsmouth, died on April 14, 2020 in Queen Alexandra Hospital in Cosham, after being admitted the previous day due shortness of breath after she had a lung infection.

She was given the all-clear from having coronavirus - but tragically died the day after her admittance due a rare fast spreading instance of cervical cancer.

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Now at a hearing at Portsmouth Coroner’s Court, a locum gynaecologist consultant at QA has come under fire for not carrying out an internal investigation just months before her death – which could have been postponed by up to two years.

Porsche McGregor-Sims Picture: Alistair ToogoodPorsche McGregor-Sims Picture: Alistair Toogood
Porsche McGregor-Sims Picture: Alistair Toogood

The 27-year-old had been suffering from increasingly heavy periods, bleeding after sex, and abdominal pain, leading to her GP to refer her to Dr Peter Schlesinger in January 2020.

The consultant believed the symptoms were due to changes to the young woman’s contraception and irritable bowel syndrome – so made diet suggestions rather than carrying out an internal investigation.

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Coroner Rosamund Rhodes-Kemp said that an NHS report into Porsche’s care found three other consultants who would have recommended a vaginal and speculum examination in January.

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Addressing the court, Dirk Brinkmann, a Portsmouth-based consultant gynaecologist, said: ‘She had the full house of symptoms that cause cancer.

‘I’m not sure what else you would want to be symptoms of a cervical cancer diagnosis.

‘With the history given the patient should have been examination to visualise her cervix.’

Porsche could have faced a 70 per cent of chance living for a further 24 months given a cancer diagnosis in January and a positive response to chemotherapy, according to Ms Rhodes-Kemp.

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Speaking to Dr Schlesinger, the coroner said: ‘After the appointment she made a complaint. She felt you hadn’t listened to her.’

Dr Schlesinger, who was a locum gynaecologist for nine weeks at QA from December 2019, said he decided not to carry out the examination given the ‘balance of probabilities’ regarding her symptom and his concerns about a lack of examination chaperones.

Porsche had a negative smear test within the previous two years, while most cervical cancers take more than 15 years to develop, according to Dr Schlesinger.

Regarding the spread of the cancer, he said: ‘It’s very very very rare. I’m surprised she had a completely normal cervix by ultrasound three months earlier.

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‘I am not alone in not examining patients who have abnormal bleeding, which is what I thought she had at the time.’

But the locum said he ‘might have been more likely’ to examine Porsche had a chaperone been immediately present.

He said: ‘I didn’t have a dedicated chaperone. Would I gain anything by examining this patient - hunting for someone, delaying the clinic? Might it be useful? I didn’t feel it was.

‘In my experience I am no longer happy to examine a women without a chaperone. We are all advised by BMI, Royal College, we should not be examining without a chaperone.’

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But Mr Brinkmann said in 17 years experience in Portsmouth he had ‘never’ suffered from a lack of a chaperone.

Addressing Dr Schlesinger, Porsche’s mother Fiona Hawke said: ‘What you certainly did was rob us of the opportunity to prepare (for her death) and say goodbye to her.’

The inquest is set to continue next month.

Fiona said the process had so far been ‘neither helpful nor unhelpful’ for the grieving family.

Regarding the end of the inquest, the 52-year-old said: ‘It’s something we feel we need to get through. It’s a point we have been aimed at for a long time. None of us have a real image of what’s beyond that.’

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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