A bungling GP surgery accidentally texted hundreds of patients telling them they had aggressive lung cancer instead of wishing them Merry Christmas. The message was sent on December 23 to patients registered with Askern Medical Practice in Doncaster, South Yorkshire.
In the message sent to phones the text advised the recipient to fill out a “DS1500 form”, paperwork that allows people with terminal illnesses to claim benefits.
It also states that the person receiving the message has “aggressive lung cancer with metastases”, meaning malignancies have spread elsewhere in the body.
Less than an hour later another text was pinged over from the surgery that read: “Please accept our sincere apologies for the previous text message sent.
“This has been sent in error. Our message to you should have read we wish you a very merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.”
Patient Carl Chegwin told the BBC: “The first thing I thought was, ‘is this some kind of sick joke?’
“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?'”
Express.co.uk has approached the surgery for comment.
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Property developer Chris Reed, 57, told the Sun he was waiting on lung cancer results and said his partner burst into tears He told the paper he raced down to the surgery to demand an answer where he was told his results were negative.
One patient at the surgery, who rushed inside after receiving the text, posted the error on Facebook, writing: “Something [is] clearly not right at Askern Medical Practice. Fuming.
“I received this message and I’m not the only one. I was shaking and close to tears. Quite a few in the surgery now with the same text. I was near the surgery and walked in to say what the hell?”
The text debacle comes as one NHS trust has asked patients celebrating the New Year by bringing their own medications including pain relief and rehydration powders.
Royal Cornwall Hospitals NHS Trust, which has urged people to only call 999 or use the emergency department for life-threatening illnesses and injuries, tweeted the advice ahead of the upcoming celebrations.
It said: “Heading to #Cornwall this #NewYear? Just in case, be wise and bring these three self-care kings! Pain relief, flu and cold remedy and rehydration powders. And don’t forget to pack any prescription medicines, too. #HelpUsHelpYou”.
The trust attached an image detailing what people should have in a first aid kit, including bandages, dressings, tweezers, scissors, antiseptic and medical tape.
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