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High Court hears of cancer widow’s compensation bid

By Burton Mail  |  Posted: February 17, 2014

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THE widow of a Burton man who claims her husband’s death from cancer five years ago was needless faces an anxious wait to learn the outcome of her bid for £1.25 million compensation from his GP.

Christopher Goodhead, who grew up in the town, was only 41 when he succumbed to bowel cancer, leaving behind his wife, Melissa, and their four young sons.

The IT expert, who was described as intensely ‘fit and determined’, had only recently completed the London Marathon with his wife when he was diagnosed with the deadly disease in 2007.

Two years before that he had visited his GP, Dr Asim Islam, at The Stansted Surgery, near the home where he settled in the south east, and been reassured that all he was probably suffering with was a case of piles, London’s High Court heard.

His widow, now called Melissa Cutting, claimed that caused a fatal ‘delay in diagnosis’, preventing him from getting the treatment which would have saved his life.

She launched a claim to the High Court, blaming Dr Islam for the death, but was told she could wait some time to learn the result after Mrs Justice Patterson reserved her ruling on the case.

Summing up the GP’s defence to the claim, Claire Toogood said there was ‘nothing to suggest’ that Mr Goodhead was suffering from anything other than piles when he visited Dr Islam.

She said: “It would be ludicrous for a GP to have worried Mr Goodhead that he had cancer in circumstances where there were absolutely no pointers towards it.

“Dr Islam was right not to worry Mr Goodhead.”

Earlier in the trial, Mrs Cutting’s barrister, Robert Seabrook, alleged that the doctor had failed to carry out a sufficiently thorough investigation when Mr Goodhead complained of bleeding.

It meant he left the doctor’s surgery thinking the piles diagnosis was certain.

Less than four years later, having succumbed, he died at home, surrounded by his family.

But Mrs Toogood told the judge that Mr Goodhead had been prescribed cream for his troubles and, having not returned to the doctor until later, thought it had worked.

“It is likely, looking at what happened, that the symptoms did not persist, that the cream did work, at least for a period, and therefore Mr Goodhead’s cancer sadly wouldn’t have been diagnosed in 2005,” she said.

Even when the symptoms did return, Mr Goodhead took another year before he had it checked out again, thinking that it was not serious, she said.

“He was simply one of the very, very unlucky ones where it was serious,” she told the judge.

A memorial site described Mr Goodhead, who was a founder member of Burton’s Mellow Dramatics group, as ‘truly a beautiful man’.

Compensation in the case has been agreed at £1.25 million, but only if Mr Goodhead’s widow proves that her husband would have ‘survived and lived’ but for the alleged negligence.

Mrs Justice Patterson reserved her decision on the claim until a later date.

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