Exclusive: Leeds cancer patient told to pay £1,400 chemotherapy bill - or go elsewhere for treatment

Dominic Horsley, 41, from Woodlesford. Picture Tony Johnson

Dominic Horsley, 41, from Woodlesford. Picture Tony Johnson

18
Have your say

A Leeds prostate cancer patient claims that after being misdiagnosed for five vital months he has been asked to pay £1,400 for life-extending chemotherapy.

Dominic Horsley, from Woodlesford, was referred to specialists at Leeds St James’s Hospital in May after suffering from aches in his lower body but says he was told he was “too young” for prostate cancer.

The Bexley Wing at Leeds St James's Hospital. Picture by Mark Bickerdike.

The Bexley Wing at Leeds St James's Hospital. Picture by Mark Bickerdike.

The 41-year-old, whose father fought prostate cancer in his mid 60s, was found to have an enlarged prostate and was diagnosed with prostatitis, an infection of the prostate, but it wasn’t until September that he was given an MRI scan.

Tests then revealed a grade nine advanced tumour on his prostate that has spread to his right leg and pelvis, which a Leeds consultant recommended should be treated with chemotherapy followed by radiotherapy and hormone treatment.

But he arrived at St James’s for his first chemo session on Wednesday to be told that due to funding issues he faced a £1,400 bill for treatment or could have the chemo for free in Huddersfield or Manchester.

“All I’m trying to do is extend my life and get some quality and I got landed with a bill for my treatment or told I should go to Manchester or Huddersfield and that’s not acceptable,” he said. “I live in Leeds, I was born in that hospital.”

Despite the explanation, Mr Horsley, a travel agent, was told by clinicians that he needs to be within minutes of the hospital in case the chemotherapy causes him to become unwell.

His family has complained to Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust’s (LTH) Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS) over both the delay in his diagnosis and the chemo mix up.

Mr Horsley, who feels he has to pay the £1,400, said: “My outcome could have been a lot different. I was told I was too young. I’m not going to question it because you trust these people. You shouldn’t be fobbed off, you need to ask questions.”

LTH has apologised and claims the funding issue relates to the fact that NHS England does not routinely pay for Docetaxel chemo, despite the fact a clinical trial earlier this year found it could extend patients’ lives by nearly two years.

Mr Horsley’s mother Dee, 75, is set to move from Bridlington to be with her son during treatment. She said: “We are talking about St James’s Hospital here, one of the biggest teaching university hospitals in the country and they get him there and send him away. To add insult to injury doesn’t even come into it.”

Dr Yvette Oade, chief medical officer at the trust, said: “We are sorry for the mistakes that have been made with regard to Mr Horsley’s treatment and we have already apologised directly to him. We have discussed the position with NHS England and it is clear the early use of Docetaxel in prostate cancer is currently not routinely funded.”

Chemotherapy drug proven to boost prostate cancer patients

A clinical trial has found that early treatment with a chemotherapy drug extends the lives of patients with advanced prostate cancer.

The drug, Docetaxel, is normally given after hormone treatment has failed but results released in May from a trial run across Britain and Switzerland found earlier treatment can extend life expectancy from 43 to 65 months.

The study, part of the Stampede trial, involved 2,962 men who were given six doses of the drug at the start of their treatment. Overall patients lived 10 months longer than expected.

Digital Festival shining spotlight on Leeds’s technical prowess