Tees successfully settles delayed diagnosis of breast cancer claim against Addenbrooke’s hospital in Cambridge for a six-figure sum.
In 2012 Claire Radcliffe, who was 22 at the time, discovered a breast lump. Claire, who was living in Cambridge, was referred by her GP to Addenbrooke's Hospital. Her ultrasound scan was mis-reported and a 10mm benign lump was diagnosed. She was reassured and discharged.
In April 2014, Claire noticed that she was very fatigued and that one of her nipples had become inverted. She visited her GP who again referred her to Addenbrooke’s. This time, she was diagnosed as having a 10cm invasive cancer, which had spread to her lymph nodes. Claire underwent radiotherapy, chemotherapy and a double mastectomy, with immediate reconstruction. She was also put on hormone treatment.
Delayed diagnosis of breast cancer
Had Claire been diagnosed at the time of the first scan, the doctors would have been able to treat the cancer by removing the lump. She would not have had the double mastectomy or reconstructive surgery. The cancer would not have spread to the lymph nodes and so she would not have needed such extensive chemotherapy and radiotherapy. She would have had a 95% chance of a cure. The approximately 17-month delay, however, has substantially increased her risk of recurrence.
After a four-year legal case against Addenbrooke’s brought by Tees, Claire has been awarded a six figure settlement. Because there is now a significant risk of the cancer recurring in the future, if this were to happen, Claire will be able to seek further compensation. Claire would love to have children and the settlement provides financial security for herself and her family in the future – the potential of secondary cancer and reduced life expectancy, which would leave young children without a mother, is obviously very worrying.
Important to check breasts regularly
Claire, who is now 29, lives with her long-term partner, Timothy, in Newmarket. They have recently returned from an extended ‘round-the-world’ trip. Having taken a break, Claire wants to tell her story and particularly has a message for other young women: “I was very young, just 22, when I developed cancer. It’s really important that women in their 20s realise that just because you’re young it doesn’t mean that you can’t get breast cancer.
“It’s really important to check your breasts regularly and if you find any changes at all, you need to seek help straight away – don’t leave it. You also need to trust your gut instinct. You know your own body, if you think there’s something wrong, be prepared to question and challenge the doctors.”
Janine Collier from Tees, Claire’s lawyers, said: “Claire is an extremely brave young woman, and it has been a genuine privilege to help her understand and come to terms with what happened and to achieve a fair financial settlement for the avoidable delayed diagnosis and significant consequences Claire has suffered.
“Because Claire was extremely young (just 22) at initial presentation, the Trust Protocol limited the investigations to a physical examination and an ultrasound scan. The scan was misreported as normal and so a biopsy was not performed. The Trust has apologised and has admitted that it was a mistake not to perform a biopsy and that this would have led to the cancer being diagnosed earlier.
“We are pleased that the Breast Imaging team have now reviewed and discussed Claire’s case and have taken the opportunity to learn from the error to reduce the chance of this happening again in the future.
“The NHS is clearly very stretched and overall does a fantastic job, but cases such as Claire’s highlight real opportunities for learning to improve outcomes for patients in the future.”
This case was featured on the BBC website, where you can find out more about Claire’s journey.
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Legal 500 UK 2023
"Janine Collier has an amazing reputation and quite rightly, she very quickly spotted something that wasn’t the main focus of the case but is able to zoom out and look at everything that’s going on and spot things others wouldn’t spot. You can tell she really cares and is a very dedicated person who just wants to help. The team are all caring and efficient."
A heartfelt thank you for all you have done in preparation for and during the settlement meeting, as well as for your unfailing support along the way, in and out of hours. It is undoubtedly due to your high professionalism if the outcome today has exceeded all expectations; it will be a huge help for us going forward and we will be forever grateful.
Chambers & Partners 2022
Janine Collier is renowned for her handling of delay in diagnosis, obstetric injury and surgical negligence claims. "She is at the top of her game and knows clinical negligence inside and out."
We consider ourselves fortunate to have been recommended to Tees by the solicitor we initially approached. We did not realise it until the case was well established that the level of professional care we were receiving was exceptional and that the experience of the individuals and the contacts they have to assist in a very complex case was the best available. We are grateful that we received a satisfactory settlement as a result of their efforts under difficult circumstances and dealing with defendants that were obstructive and disorganised. By far the greatest benefit for us however is the fact that the victim, with assistance from highly skilled experts that we would not have known about otherwise, learned to walk short distances when all other medical opinion did not consider this possible. This was their greatest achievement which is well beyond the service we expected.
Legal 500 UK 2021
"Janine Collier, head of department, is a perspicacious and very able lawyer, certainly one of the best in the region and beyond, who believes in her team and in the work she does. A genuinely nice person who sees it as her clients’ right and her duty to achieve the best possible outcome for them. Janine delivers this time after time. She is an extremely intelligent and intuitive lawyer who has a genuine understanding of the difficulties and fears clients experience when living with an avoidable injury."
Legal 500 UK 2021
"Janine Collier is a really good solicitor – she really understands the medicine in clin neg cases and works well with the team, the clients and the experts to get excellent results in difficult cases."
Legal 500 UK 2021
"Janine Collier is exceptionally good at analysis, organisation and strategy."
Legal 500 UK 2021
"Janine Collier is a really good solicitor, she really understands the medicine in clinical negligence cases and works well with the team, the clients and the experts to get excellent results in difficult cases."
Legal 500 2021
"Janine Collier shows dedication to ensuring access to the highest level of experts on medical negligence cases. There is excellent consistent communication with experts throughout a lengthy case, creating a supportive working atmosphere and ensuring long-term engagement of expert. She has a very intelligent and insightful approach to learning from experts, enabling sharing of detailed specialist information and findings with confidence, and she is excellent in multi-professional meetings with solicitors and barristers, enhancing communication in exceptionally complex cases; very high level of sensitivity demonstrated towards the needs of client throughout the case, consistently focusing on the multifactorial needs of the client, over and above the monetary compensation."
Legal 500 UK 2021
"Janine Collier has been amazing to work with. She is always quick to respond to queries, always takes time to make sure we fully understand the process and supports us to make decisions, i.e. switching from Legal Aid to no-win no-fee, with well reasoned and researched information to support us."
Legal 500 UK 2021
‘It has always been a rewarding experience working with Janine Collier and I would commend her very highly to lead on medical negligence cases.‘
The Fisher family
Janine works with empathy, understanding and compassion. She handled our mother's inquest with skill and sensitivity and guided us expertly. She kept us informed continually via email and multiple meetings and phone calls. Janine completely took the sting and the stress out of our case.