A GP surgery that missed a man's brain tumour the size of a tennis ball - and instead treated him for depression despite him struggling to speak - has paid "substantial" compensation to his Essex county councillor father.
Chris Buckley on a fishing holiday (Pic: Malcolm Buckley)
The Robert Frew Surgery, of Silva Island Way, Wickford, reached an out of court settlement with former Basildon Council leader Malcolm Buckely, despite accepting "no responsibility" over the death of Chris Buckley, 34.
Mr Buckley junior died on May 2, 2013.
He was prescribed anti-depressants by partners at the surgery for more than four weeks before the mistake was identified after he lost the use of a hand.
The 6.7x5.3x6.3cm tumour was only picked up at Basildon Hospital after he was rushed in to A&E because he could no longer use his right hand.
Because the case was settled outside of court, no details of the sum have been released, but solicitors acting for Mr Buckley senior described it as a "substantial settlement."
In a statement, law firm Leigh Day said: "Malcolm Buckley, Essex County Councillor for Wickford, has been awarded a substantial settlement following the alleged failure of GPs to detect a brain tumour which ultimately led to the death of his 34-year-old son.
"Mr Buckley took legal action against the Robert Frew Surgery after Chris visited the practice three times in December 2011 and January 2012 with speech problems, however, according to his lawyers no neurological examination was undertaken."
Malcolm Buckley fought a four-year legal battle (Pic: Essex Conservatives)
Mr Buckley said: “Speech impediments are a common indicator of brain damage and consequently Chris was diagnosed with a brain tumour by Basildon Hospital A & E within minutes of attendance on 1 February 2012.
“While earlier diagnosis might not have saved his life it is likely that it could have improved the quality of life for the months before his death.
“This is not about money, as the settlement will go into trust for Chris’s son Oliver, we just wanted lessons to be learned."
Emma Jones, Partner in the Human Rights Department at Leigh Day said: “We are pleased that the issues as pleaded in this case were taken seriously.
"Our expert evidence suggested that had Christopher been treated correctly he would have had more time with his family.
"We hope that those involved in his care have learned lessons as a result of this case.”
Dr Oluwatoyin Ogunsanya (Pic: NHS)
Dr Oluwatoyin Ogunsanya, senior partner Dr Atef Wissa, and Dr Adegbnoyega Tayo respectively prescribed Chris 20mgs of anti-depressant citalopram and sleeping tablets as his speech progressively worsened to the point of being "almost mute."
Yet they faced no further action from the General Medical Council (GMC) after a year-long probe, during which, independent expert GPs gave conflicting verdicts on the standard of care.
Independent expert Dr Leonard Peter, hired by the GMC, said Dr Ogunsanya’s and Dr Wissa’s assessments fell “seriously below that expected of a reasonably competent GP” and Dr Tayo failed to consider other causes of the speech problem.
The case could have progressed to fitness to practice tribunals held in public which can lead to doctors being struck off, suspended or facing other action.
However, the regulator closed the complaints after advising Dr Ogunsanya and Dr Wissa to reflect on Dr Peter's findings with no further action for Dr Tayo.
GMC investigators said the opinions of three independent expert GPs defending the partners, who said tape recordings of Chris Buckley's phone calls to book his appointments showed he could speak, conflicted with Dr Peter.
Mr Buckley branded the regulator biased in favour of doctors over patients.
He said at the time: “When the GMC employed an independent expert I would expect it to give weight to rather than rely on experts employed by the doctors being investigated.
At the time of Mr Buckely's death, Dr Oginsanya stood by his actions, however, said that lessons had been learned from the case.
Robert Frew Medical Centre, in Wickford
He said “It is a big jump to say there was negligence. It was a very unusual presentation.
"When each one of us saw him there were no neurological problems, no headaches, no vomiting."
Mr Ogunsanya said he believed Chris spoke during the assessment and that he was depressed.
He added: “He did not say he could not remember words. There was no loss of limbs and that is why I used the (depression) assessment tool.
"We are not saying there were no lessons to be learned from this case.
"Unfortunately he saw three different doctors at different times.
"If a patient comes back and has not improved we need to vigorously assess why they are not getting better."
A practice spokesman spoke for Dr Wissa and Dr Tayo at the time, saying: “Even though Mr Buckley has spoken publicly, we are unable to discuss confidential details of patient care."
Have you had an experience with the Robert Frew Surgery? Contact email@example.com.