A woman has told of how she was left in despair after repeatedly raising concerns about swelling to her face – which later turned out to be cancer – to a consultant dentist accused of malpractice.
Professor Philip Lamey, who worked at the School of Dentistry at the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast, is accused of fobbing off the woman's long-running worries about swelling in her face that turned out to be Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma.
The claim was made at a hearing at the General Dental Council (GDC) in London yesterday, at which Prof Lamey faces 46 counts of malpractice involving 33 patients.
The unidentified woman, referred to during the hearing as Patient 1, first noticed the swelling in late 2008, but claims several appointments to investigate were not scheduled as promised.
A statement read on the woman's behalf yesterday by David Bradly for the GDC, told how the woman began seeing Prof Lamey in 2008. She noticed painless swelling on her face shortly before a routine appointment in December 2008.
The woman claimed she was told by the Prof Lamey that she would need a test called a 'sialogram'. However, the appointment he said had been booked for the test failed to materialise, the hearing was told. And Patient 1 did not receive an appointment date until the end of January 2009.
Having attended that appointment, only for the procedure to be unsuccessful, the woman claims Prof Lamey then told her she would need a dye test, without any explanation of what that was. She alleged that the appointment for the test also failed to appear.
Having raised her concerns with the dentist, Patient 1 said: "Professor Lamey was very abrupt and said that I needed a dye test.
She claimed he told her the procedure failed because she had blocked glands and a "plumbing problem".
Patient 1 underwent intensive chemotherapy and radiotherapy from October 2009 before she finished her treatment in May 2010.
Prof Lamey denies the case against him. The hearing continues.
"I felt helpless...and could not understand why I could not find someone to help me. My family were at their wits end and I was scared that I might have cancer. I suffer from depression and the helplessness made matters worse. I felt that I had been lost in the system and I lost my confidence in Professor Lamey."
Patient 1, who was later diagnosed with cancer, on her repeated attempts to raise concerns.