A retired Maidenhead businesswoman died following a two-year delay in diagnosing her lung cancer.

Irene Ellingham’s relatives have spoken out after a hospital trust report found there were 'missed opportunities' to diagnose and treat her disease.

After being diagnosed with pneumonia and possible Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease on January 10, 2018, the mum-of-two and grandmother-of-three underwent two CT scans while a patient of the Parkside Suite, a private ward based at Slough's Wexham Park Hospital.

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The results were ‘abnormal'.

Instead of being sent to a lung cancer specialist under the NHS’ urgent two-week cancer referral, a private radiologist incorrectly advised that Irene undergo a follow up chest X-ray in four to six months’ time. It was never booked.

Irene, who set up Bennett Transport road haulage company in the 1980s and who volunteered at Maidenhead Synagogue, was told that she had COPD. She attended a third meeting with a different private doctor on February 28, 2018. They noted the previous recommendations and took no further action.

Irene, who was married to Pete, 69, was diagnosed with cancer which had spread to her liver and bones in May 2020. She died aged 74, days later at home.

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Daughters Lisa, 47, and Sharon 45, instructed specialist medical negligence lawyers at Irwin Mitchell.

A Serious Incident report by Frimley Health NHS Foundation Trust which runs Wexham Park and the Parkside Suite there concluded the ‘root cause’ of Irene’s death was a delay in diagnosing her lung cancer following the results of her second CT scan in February 2018.

The report recommended the referral processes for private patients at the hospital are aligned with the steps taken for NHS services.

Millie Bolsover, the legal expert at Irwin Mitchell representing the family, said: “The hospital trust’s review has identified worrying areas in the private healthcare Irene faced. We hope that health professionals learn lessons from the issues that the trust has identified and are reminded of the need of working closely with the NHS to improve patient care."

Lisa said: “Mum was an independent woman who was ahead of her time. She established her own haulage company in the 1980s and after retiring she loved to spend time with her family and friends, whilst also volunteering regularly.

“She adored her grandchildren and was never happier than when spending time with them."