A former paramedic has been diagnosed with terminal cancer after desperately pleading to see his GP for months.
Steve McGregor started having difficulties breathing in March and tried to get a face-to-face appointment at Trinity Medical Centre in Blythe Bridge, Stoke-on-Trent.
But a limit of services because of the pandemic meant he had to wait until May to get an X-ray and phone consultation where he was told there were no issues.
Unconvinced of their findings because of his background in healthcare, the 48-year-old finally got a scan at Stafford’s County Hospital in November, when he was told he had inoperable, terminal lung cancer.
Former paramedic Steve McGregor has been diagnosed with terminal cancer after desperately pleading to see his GP for months
Steve, who worked for West Midlands Ambulance Service, now believes the cancer could have been operable had it been detected sooner.
The dad-of-one said: ‘I noticed changes in my breathing which were quite concerning. I felt like I couldn’t inflate the upper left lung. I felt like I couldn’t oxygenate effectively.
‘I was concerned I may suffer hypoxia in the night. I did say that I had a concern that I may stop breathing.’
But Steve claims his GP refused to see or refer him for eight months despite making 20 phone calls to the surgery.
He was however able to get a face-to-face GP appointment following the scan at Stafford Hospital.
‘I have now been diagnosed with an inoperable lung cancer, I have never smoked and have been fit and well, I am only 48 years old,’ he added.
Steve, who worked for West Midlands Ambulance Service, now believes the cancer could have been operable had it been detected sooner, but had spent eight months trying to see his GP
‘The doctor told me that he’d actually seen a couple of hundred patients this year. In my opinion, not seeing me earlier has been detrimental.’
The delay to his diagnosis has left him feeling ‘extremely angry’.
Cancer Research UK, where Steve used to work, has warned of a surge in waiting times for cancer screening appointments.
By the end of October, there were nine times more people waiting six weeks or more for an endoscopy test – which can check for bowel or oesophageal cancers – compared to end of October 2019.
Even 38 per cent of GPs said their practice was finding it tough to meet demand for remote consultations.
Dr Jodie Moffat, Cancer Research UK’s head of early diagnosis, said: ‘GPs and NHS staff have worked incredibly hard during this challenging year to manage the increased strain Covid-19 has put on an already stretched system.
‘But many patients are still a long way off receiving the swift cancer diagnoses that will give them the best chance of being treated successfully, and worryingly we don’t yet know what the long-term impact on cancer stage and survival will be.’
‘I have now been diagnosed with an inoperable lung cancer, I have never smoked and have been fit and well, I am only 48 years old,’ he added
Steve’s concern now is for his family, because he will not be able to draw on his NHS pension or receive a Death in Service payment after he quit his job at WMAS to go back into education.
He has set up a JustGiving page in the hope of raising funds to support his son and partner Pam, who he now hopes to marry.
They also plan to establish a foundation to ‘highlight the inadequacies in NHS treatment and care of patients and their failure to listen and act’.
‘They have cost me my life at 48 years old. Our hope is that a Foundation will support this fight for others,’ he said.
When approached, his GP Dr Bhalchandra Narayan Kulkarni said: ‘For reasons of patient confidentiality the practice is unable to discuss any aspects of patient care.’
West Midlands Ambulance Service were also contacted for comment.