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Gillingham man left in limbo waiting for skin cancer test results

By Katie Nelson

A man has been left distraught after a delay in receiving his skin cancer test results.

Derek Horrox first went to his doctor at St Werburgh Medical Practice, Hoo, complaining of a rash on both his legs in June last year.

The 69-year-old was referred to Medway Maritime’s dermatology department after his wife Linda pointed out to the doctor that he also had a mark on his ear.

Derek Horrox has been trying to chase his results from a biopsy since April (10737176)
Derek Horrox has been trying to chase his results from a biopsy since April (10737176)

Mr Horrox, from Barnsole Road, Gillingham, had photos taken of his ear during his visit to the department.

He said: “In August, the rash was spreading on my legs and the scratching was keeping me awake at night.

“I went to our pharmacist. He advised me to use E45 cream and a skin lotion. This I did and it did decrease the itching.

“By September, the rash had spread to my torso and arms.”

Mr Horrox, an engineering manager, was concerned the rash was being caused by his cholesterol medication.

His pharmacist prescribed two different creams and an alternative cholesterol tablet.

He said: “By November as there was still no improvement, I returned to see a doctor.

“This time I was referred to a dermatology department on St Mary’s Island.

The mark on Derek's neck where a biopsy was taken for possible skin cancer (10737180)
The mark on Derek's neck where a biopsy was taken for possible skin cancer (10737180)

“The specialist suspected the rash may be caused by a fungal nail infection which would need to be treated by taking tablets, if proven.

“The doctor took toenail samples and advised me he would arrange an appointment for a biopsy for the rash. Also he suspected a skin cancer on my neck, behind the left ear.”

A biopsy was taken on Tuesday, March 26. Mr Horrox says he had heard nothing by mid-April, so tried calling two numbers he had been given on the confirmation letter.

“I phoned the number as advised on the booking confirmation, but the line was not working so I called another number, which I believe was for bookings.”

When his call to the second number was eventually answered, he was informed the department had only received part of his results for the nail test and nothing for the biopsy for the possible skin cancer.

He said: “On Wednesday, May 8, I again phoned the first number. The automated service stated I was seventh in the queue.

“I just can’t see how they would know how many test results are missing if no one ever answers the phone...” - Derek Horrox

“One hour later I got through. The lady started by saying I should have received a referral letter but then said the information was no longer held by them and that I had to ring the second number.

“I have tried at random times for at least four weeks. The phone always has the engaged tone. My GP practice will not chase this matter either.

“I just can’t see how they would know how many test results are missing if no one ever answers the phone.”

Mr Horrox was recently turned away from a blood donor session as he was told he could not donate until he received his results.

Medway Clinical Commissioning Group said it had not received a complaint regarding the matter.

It said he should email DMC, which now runs Medway’s dermatology service, at DMC.admin@nhs.net and someone would try to answer the query within 24 hours.

Less urgent queries should be responded to within five days.

His case comes as other dermatology patients have been left with similar issues following the transfer of dermatology services in Medway to new provider DMC Healthcare.

89-year-old George Hobbs from Gillingham developed a huge growth on his head following a fall says he was told repeatedly by doctors to take paracetamol.

Earlier this month, mum-of-three Helen Palmer from Hempstead learned that her test results had been lost after two and a half months of waiting.

Medway Clinical Commisioning Group (CCG) revealed earlier this month that the scan's of 30 people had been lost during the transfer of services, and that seven were unrecoverable.

To keep up-to-date with all the latest developments with your local hospitals and other health stories, click here.

Read more: All the latest news from Medway

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