Mother of cancer boy seeks justice
The mother of a four-year-old boy who died at a hospital accused of falsifying cancer care data has demanded "justice" for her son.
Danielle Uren believes her son Mackenzie Cackett might be still alive had it not been for mistakes in his diagnosis and treatment.
Mackenzie died of a brain tumour in May last year after enduring a series of lengthy delays and blunders in his treatment at Colchester General Hospital.
The hospital's trust has been reported to the police after staff complained of a cover-up in which they said they were "pressured or bullied" into falsifying data relating to cancer patients.
Health watchdog the Care Quality Commission (CQC) contacted Essex Police after finding that it appeared data was altered to meet crucial targets.
Miss Uren, from Halstead, Essex, said: "It has been such a difficult time. We knew there was something wrong but we were ignored and that may have cost our son his life.
"So it didn't come as a big surprise to me that there could be a wider scandal. It's so shocking the amount of people that have been affected but I'm not surprised as it couldn't just have been us who have had such appalling treatment and gone through such a terrible experience."
"I just feel like no-one has been held accountable and all we have received are just feeble apologies. No-one has been put through disciplinary action, no-one has lost their job. We have lost our son but the people who are responsible are just able to carry on with their lives as normal and it doesn't seem fair. We just want justice.
"I'm hopeful we can now find out exactly what happen and what went wrong. It's an external investigation so I'm hopeful they won't be able to cover anything else up. It seems to me that lives were put at risk for waiting time tables and that just isn't right. Mackenzie deserved so much more. "
Mackenzie was taken to the hospital four times in seven months before receiving a diagnosis, she said.
The youngster was taken to the hospital's A&E department in September 2010 because he was vomiting and was suffering from headaches.
He had blood tests and an X-ray, but no further appointments were made. A scan of his head and spine was delayed by four weeks and in February 2011 he was diagnosed with cancer, seven months after going to his family doctor.
In September that year doctors dismissed his symptoms after they returned, but in January 2012 he was diagnosed with a secondary tumour, and died four months later, shortly after he was visited by the Duchess of Cambridge.
Miss Uren added: "I wanted to believe the doctors even though I knew deep down my son was not well. However, you don't want to think the worst and when you take them to someone who is supposed to be a specialist and they are trying to assure you it's probably a food allergy or a stomach acid reflux, you just take that away with you.
"You want to believe the doctors as you don't want it to be anything more serious as it is your child. I also didn't want to be a hypochondriac but it was always there in the back of my mind which is why I kept going back.
"I was consistently dismissed by the staff at the hospital when I asked if it could be cancer. You know there is something not right especially when your child has been sick every few days. It was quite a violent sickness as well. I did make this apparent to the doctors but was ignored and as a parent you just don't think it will happen to you."
Miss Uren said that she still "carries around the anger" of Mackenzie's death and is determined to seek justice for her son.
She said: "When we were finally told the news that Mackenzie had cancer I was so angry, up until that point I hadn't really believed that there was something wrong with him but when they told me that I screamed at them that we had been telling them this the whole way through.
"I've been told we did all we could do as parents but you still have that guilt that we should have been more forceful, maybe we should have shouted louder but it just didn't happen. That is so hard for a mother to deal with. I hope our questions are now finally answered."
The CQC said that of 61 care records examined, 22 showed that people had been "placed at risk of receiving care that was unsafe or not effective, due to delays in receiving appointments or treatment".
In some cases people did not get their treatment within the required 62 days, and in three cases delays exceeded 100 days.
The family's lawyer, Iona Meeres-Young, of Slater & Gordon, said: "We are looking into whether there were negligent delays in Mackenzie's diagnosis and failings in the treatment. Mackenzie's parents have a right to know whether appropriate treatment would have spared Mackenzie pain, allowed him more time, or given him a fighting chance of a cure.
"The renewed focus on Colchester General Hospital following the CQC report brings the Cackett family's tragedy flooding back. Mackenzie's case highlights the human costs of the hospital's serious failings.
"We welcome both consideration of a criminal investigation and the setting-up of an incident management team of cancer specialists by NHS England to ensure the safety of the current cancer patients."
A spokesman for Colchester Hospital University NHS Foundation Trust said: " The trust's medical director Dr Sean MacDonnell is arranging an external review of the care and treatment we provided Mackenzie Cackett.
" Mackenzie's family are aware of this and we have asked them if there are any particular questions and issues they would like the review to cover.
" The trust, again, wishes to extend its condolences and sympathy to the family for their loss."