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Girl, 19, who waited year to see doctor dies 'within weeks' of cancer diagnosis

A teenager died ‘within weeks’ of her terminal cancer diagnosis after waiting a year for a GP appointment, her family claim.

Amelia Ellerby, 19, had discovered a lump the size of a 50p coin on her back in February last year.

She pleaded with doctors to take her seriously but was just given antibiotics, her aunt Claire Hanshaw said.

She added that her niece would call her local practice every six weeks to try get an appointment.

The teenager, described as ‘selfless and loyal’ by friends and family, was eventually admitted to A&E.

Scans revealed that she had stage four cancer that had spread ‘all over the top half of her body’.

Amelia passed away on June 12 this year, just a few weeks after receiving news her cancer diagnosis was terminal.

Claire, who had looked after Amelia since she was 15, claims doctors ‘failed’ her niece.

She said: ‘I think there should be a lesson learnt so that other people don’t go through the same thing.

“It was devastating because even though she was my niece she was like a daughter as she was living with me. We were very close. It was like losing a child. And it probably shouldn’t have happened. I don’t think they took it seriously at all. I do think if it was picked up sooner, it would have been different.’

Claire, from York, said that Amelia had first noticed the lump on her back during exercise in February last year.

The teenager tried to get an appointment with her surgery – the Priory Medical Centre – and was reportedly told she’d been put on a waiting list for a scan.

Amelia saw a GP in March, and her lump mas measured to be 10cm by 3cm in size.

Claire said: ‘It went from a smallish lump to being massive overnight.

‘The pain got worse, so we had to go to A&E for the CT scan, and then she got referred to Leeds hospital, and that’s where we got the news confirmed.’

Doctors told Amelia she had stage 4 terminal cancer, with a diagnosis of metastatic soft tissue sarcoma on May 18 this year.

Claire added: ‘Amelia was upset and angry. Obviously, we started thinking the news is going to be bad, but we didn’t really expect her to be as bad as she was.

‘It was only when she went to Leeds that they said it’s not just in her lungs and back – it’s all over the top half of her body, basically. No one deserves to lose their life at that age. They haven’t lived their life, really.’

Amelia’s GP surgery and the NHS Vale of York CCG, which looks after primary care in York, said they could not comment on individual cases.

But a spokesperson for York and Scarborough Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust said: ‘Our sympathies are with Amelia’s family at this terribly sad time.

‘The way appointments are allocated and prioritised for diagnostic procedures such as scans is dependent on the nature of the referral that we receive, either from a GP or a clinician within the hospital. If a referral is made to investigate a potential cancer, then this is fast-tracked and would be done quickly, usually within two weeks.

‘We continued to receive fast-track referrals and maintain this service throughout the pandemic. Early detection and diagnosis of cancer is incredibly important and we would encourage anyone who has any concerns to contact their GP as soon as possible.

‘We would also encourage Amelia’s family to contact us if they have any questions about the care she received.’

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