From America to Australia, Doncaster GP's cancer text blunder makes global headlines

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A Doncaster GP surgery has made headlines around the world – after patients received an aggressive lung cancer text message instead of a Merry Christmas greeting.

Askern Medical Practice has been featured in news outlets across the world, from America to Australia and India to Spain following the gaffe which left patients upset and angry.

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It is not clear how many patients received the message which read: “From the forwarded letters at CMP (Conisbrough Medical Practice), Dr Kumar has asked for you do a (sic) DS1500 for the above patient.

The text message sent out to patients at a Doncaster GP surgery about aggressive lung cancer.The text message sent out to patients at a Doncaster GP surgery about aggressive lung cancer.
The text message sent out to patients at a Doncaster GP surgery about aggressive lung cancer.

"Diagnosis – aggressive lung cancer with metastases. Thanks.”

After realising the blunder, the message was followed up moments later with an apology which read: “Please accept our sincere apologies for the previous message sent. This obviously has been sent in error.

"Our message to you should have read ‘we wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.”

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A DS1500 is a form used to help patients with a terminal illness claim benefits.

Metastases are the development of secondary malignant growths throughout the body, distanced from the primary cancer site.

The story was picked up by dozens of UK newspapers including The Sun, Daily Mirror, Daily Mail and Daily Telegraph as well as the BBC and Sky, featuring in news and radio bulletins.

It was also reported by CBS News in the USA, the New York Post, several Australian news outlets, The Times of India, as well as news outlets across Europe, including France, Germany, Holland, Italy and also across Asia.

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Sarah Hargreaves, who was waiting for medical test results, said she "broke down" when she received the text, only to be later told it was sent in error.

Ms Hargreaves said after she received the original text while she was out shopping, she "felt sick to my teeth and broke down".

She added: "I had just had a mole removed and was awaiting a result from a biopsy and I had been to hospital as my smear test came back abnormal, so yes, I was very worried."

Carl Chegwin, another of the surgery's users who, along with his mother, received the text, said he was left upset by the out-of-the-blue message which "was enough to break someone".

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"The first thing I thought was, 'is this some kind of sick joke?'" Mr Chegwin said.

"It completely took me by surprise... It's not often I go to the doctors, then out of the blue, it's cancer. I'm sat there scratching my head thinking, 'I do smoke, do they know something I don't?'"

"They've just told people a few days before Christmas they've got terminal lung cancer. They can't do that."

"What if that message was meant for someone, and then they are told it's a Christmas message, then again told, 'oh no, that was actually meant for you'?" Mr Chegwin asked.

"If it's one of their admins that's sent out a mass text, I wouldn't be trusting them to empty the bins."

The group which runs the surgery said nobody was available for comment.

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