Page last updated at 14:56 GMT, Monday, 11 August 2008 15:56 UK

Lung removed in 'cancer blunder'

Laurence Ball
Mr Ball had surgery at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary in 2005

A man has said his lung was needlessly removed by doctors after he was wrongly diagnosed with cancer.

Laurence Ball, who lives in Shetland, had surgery at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary to remove a tumour on his lung.

But Mr Ball, 58, was later told there had never been cancer in the organ. He is now planning legal action.

NHS Grampian said it deeply regretted that, with hindsight, the procedure that Mr Ball underwent may not have been necessary.

The problems started when Mr Ball suffered a chest infection in May 2005 and was sent for tests at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary.

He was told he had cancer in his left lung and underwent surgery in August 2005 to have a tumour removed.

But after the operation he was told by surgeons that he did not need chemotherapy as there had been no cancer in his lung.

"For the next few days I was really traumatised and in deep shock," he told BBC Radio's Good Morning Scotland programme.


Laurence Ball's account of what happened

Mr Ball said his solicitor had been told by NHS Grampian that an investigation had found no individual blame, incompetence or negligence.

However, Mr Ball said he had "lost everything" - his job as a firefighter, his health and the years of happy retirement ahead.

He said: "I was given a misdiagnosis, I've lost my lung and I lost my job.

"For those reasons I feel that at the very least an explanation should be given to me by the Grampian health board who should sit down and discuss financial compensation for my loss of earnings."

'Urgent contact'

NHS Grampian said in a statement: "The clinical course of action agreed for Mr Ball was arrived at following the review of all relevant information, test results, scans, x-rays etc, by a multi-disciplinary group of clinicians.

"It was considered to be the appropriate action based on all this information.

"NHS Grampian deeply regrets that, with hindsight the procedure that Mr Ball underwent may not have been necessary."

The statement added: "Mr Ball's case notes have today been reviewed. We understand that he is pursuing a legal claim and has expressed a view that he has a right to expect a full explanation from NHS Grampian.

"We intend making urgent contact with Mr Ball to offer him the opportunity of a face-to-face meeting to review the clinical circumstances of his care, without prejudice to any legal action he chooses to pursue."

Shetland Lib Dem MSP, Tavish Scott, said the case highlighted the need for a speedy "no blame" compensation system within the health service.

He said: "NHS Grampian should not be using funding, needed to run the health service, to fight a legal battle against Mr Ball. And Mr Ball should not be forced to take legal action to get redress."

He said he would take the case to Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon.

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