March father celebrates a change in the law over negligent doctors following a campaign prompted by the death of his 26 year old daughter
PUBLISHED: 11:45 05 February 2016 | UPDATED: 11:45 05 February 2016
The family of a young woman who died of cervical cancer after her doctor failed to spot the signs eight times are celebrating following a campaign to change the law about negligent doctors.
Nikki Sams was 26 when she died in 2007 after her GP failed to recognise the symptoms eight times in four years.
Now her father Mike, of March, is celebrating the success of a long campaign to make it easier to dismiss doctors thanks to a change in the law.
Mr Sams said: “After many years of fighting the GMC and facing an uphill struggle, there is finally some justice for Nikki. I am absolutely delighted by this change.”
NE Cambs MP Steve Barclay, who backed the campaign, said: “I have pursued this case over the last four years because I felt so strongly about the appalling travesty of both Nikki’s death at such a young age and the fact that the doctor played the system and retired as a way to avoid being struck off.
“No change in the law can bring Nikki back but the least I could do for Mr Sams was to try and help ensure that any other family who suffers such a loss as a result of a negligent doctor is able to appeal a decision where the disciplinary process has not worked.
“It was clear that there was an imbalance in the way a doctor could appeal against a tribunal decision that they regarded as being harsh, but the family of a deceased patient did not have an equal right of appeal nor did the GMC on their behalf.
“I am delighted that the GMC will now be able to appeal in cases like Dr Shankar to avoid a repeat of the circumstances faced by Mr Sams.
“I would like to take this opportunity to pay tribute to Mike and Joanne for the strength they have shown over the last 9 and a half years in securing this much needed change.”
Nikki, who lived in Luton went to see her GP, Dr Navin Shankar on eight occasions. He ignored her pleas for hospital checks, and it was only after she moved from his practice, that she was diagnosed with having cervical cancer.
Despite the GMC finding Shankar guilty of serious misconduct and declaring him unfit to practice, he was able to continue working as a GP under supervision and escaped being struck off the register. Ultimately, he took voluntary erasure whereby he took his own name off the register.
Mr Sams had been writing to the GMC for many years, without success until Mr Barclay took up the campaign in 2012.
Niall Dickson, the GMC’s Chief Executive said the changes “will help us to make sure doctors receive the support they require and patients receive high quality care.” He added that they “will also make investigations and hearings more proportionate, faster and more efficient.”