A cancer sufferer who had her bladder and reproductive organs removed unnecessarily has been awarded a six figure sum in a ground-breaking judgement which ruled she should have told about alternative treatments.

Christine Statham, 62, from Walsall only found out that radiology would have treated her cancer more than a year after the radical operation.

The Birmingham County Court judgment means that doctors now have a clear duty to explain what options are available to patients."

Cancer sufferer was told there was only one treatment option

Mrs Statham was diagnosed with bladder cancer in 2005 after going to her GP complaining of blood in the urine. Under consultants at Manor Hospital, Walsall, she had an operation to remove the tumour and a biopsy showed it was aggressive.

She was told the only option was to have her bladder removed. She wasn't told that her reproductive organs would be removed until two weeks before the operation and was never told that radiotherapy was an option.

After the nine hour operation she was also told there was no trace of cancer in her removed organs. However, she needed two further operations because of complications.

Should have been offered radiotherapy

Mrs Statham must now use a stoma and is suffering menopausal side effects. As a result of her condition she has been forced to take ill health retirement from her job as a nursing assistant.

When she was told that no cancer had been found in her removed organs she complained to the hospital asking if her surgery had been necessary. When she was unable to get an apology she contacted Thompsons Solicitors to pursue a claim for compensation.

It was only then that she found out that she should have been offered radiotherapy as an alternative to surgery.

Could have avoided radical surgery

She said that if she had been given a choice on her treatment she would have avoided radical surgery.

She said: “I have lost all faith in Manor Hospital. I was never told that radiotherapy was an option and I now feel like I was mutilated for no reason. I have to live every day with the side effects of losing my bladder and female organs. Had I been told that radiotherapy had been an option I would have taken it.

“It is a great relief to know the judge has ruled against Walsall Hospitals NHS Trust. I only hope that they take this on board to ensure that no-one has to go through unnecessary aggressive surgery like I did.”

Judge ruled in client's favour

Following a four day trial at Birmingham County Court a judge ruled that Walsall Hospitals NHS Trust should have told Mrs Statham that alternative treatment was available.

The judgment said: “I am satisfied that the claimant has established that, had she been appropriately advised, she would not have had radical cystectomy and all that this has entailed, and that it would have been discovered (as it was) that the cancer had been cleared at the original TURBT (removal of bladder tumour). In these circumstances the Claimant has established that her pain, suffering and loss of amenity, as well as her pecuniary losses, were caused by the negligence of the defendant.”

NHS must make sure that patients are told about all the treatments available

Sarah Goodman from Thompsons Solicitors said: “This is a groundbreaking decision which shows just how important it is for the NHS to make sure that patients are told about all the treatments available where there is a choice. It was clear from the evidence in this case that decisions were made by doctors at team meetings at Walsall and at New Cross Wolverhampton in the belief that someone else had told Mrs Statham about the treatment alternatives and that she had chosen surgery, when in fact she had only been told by a specialist nurse that she was to have surgery.

“The specialists may have believed that removal of her organs would give Mrs Statham the best possible chance of beating cancer, but did this under the misapprehension that she had been told that radiotherapy was a less intrusive alternative. The judge at trial accepted her evidence that she would have wanted to avoid being forced to live an impeded life. As it happened she not only had the expected bladder stoma, but had two more operations because of unexpected complications as well.

“Mrs Statham was entitled to know what other treatments were available to her so she could make an educated decision about her future healthcare. Had she known that radiotherapy was an option she would never have agreed to have her bladder and female organs removed.”