A CANCER patient was not told that his disease had spread for several months after a mix up by senior consultants.

NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde has been told to apologise to the man's widow after it emerged that a "breakdown in communication" between the radiologist and oncologist in charge of his care meant that he was not told about the results of a scan until he contacted his own GP several months later.

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The case was investigated by the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman after the man's widow, known only as Ms C, submitted a complaint to the watchdog about his treatment.

Her husband, Mr A, was being treated for cancer when he underwent a scan which revealed that the disease had progressed.

However, she complained that he was never told by specialists that his cancer had spread, and "did not discover that his cancer had progressed until he contacted his GP several months later".

In its report on the case, the watchdog said: "We found that the failure to contact Mr A to discuss his scan results was unreasonable.

"We determined that this was due to a miscommunication between the oncologist and radiologist and that the radiologist had changed their practices as a result of this complaint.

"However, we upheld Ms C's complaint and made a further recommendation to the board regarding this failing."

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The SPSO said the health board had to apologise to Ms C "for the breakdown in communication which resulted in neither the oncologist nor radiologist contacting Mr A to discuss the scan results".

In its recommendations, the watchdog added that in future when two or more specialists are involved in a patient's care "it should be clear who is going to contact them to discuss their ongoing treatment, and this contact should be made in a timely manner".

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Ms C had also complained that when her husband was having palliative chemotherapy, the oncologist failed to identify or investigate why the haemoglobin count in his blood was low. This is an indicator of poor blood-oxygen levels.

However, the SPSO said its expert advisors believed that this had been reasonable since her husband had not been reporting unusual symptoms at the time.

A spokeswoman for NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde said: "We have received the Ombudsman’s report today and his recommendations.

"We have written to the family to reiterate our sincere condolences and to apologise for the communication failings in this patient’s care.

"We have learned lessons from this case and introduced simpler communication methods for scan results."