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March man wins justice for daughter Nikki Sams

Mike Sams holds a picture of his daughter Nikki
Mike Sams holds a picture of his daughter Nikki

A March man has finally won justice for his 26-year-old daughter who died after a GP failed to spot cancer.

Nikki Sams lost her battle to cervical cancer in 2007 after her GP, Dr Navin Shankar, had failed to pick up the signs during eight visits.

Miss Sams was only diagnosed with the disease after she had been referred to another doctor.

Her father Mike has been fighting for a change in the law which will give families a greater say.

Currently, the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service runs hearings for doctors accused of breaching the General Medical Council’s standards and makes independent decisions.

Under the change to the Medical Act, the GMC can appeal to the High Court against these decisions.

Mr Sams said: “After many years of fighting the GMC and facing an uphill struggle, there is finally some justice for Nikki. I am absolutely delighted by this change.”

Miss Sams, who lived in Luton, went to her GP on eight occasions but he ignored her pleas for hospital checks. It was finally picked up by another doctor

Miss Sams was given the all-clear after six months of treatment. But while being treated for a car accident, she received the news that it had returned.

Despite the GMC finding Shankar guilty of serious misconduct and declaring him unfit to practice, he was able to continue working as a GP under supervision and escaped being struck off the register. Ultimately, he took his own name off the register.

After years of writing to the GMC Mr Sams approached MP Steve Barclay, who took up the campaign in 2012.

He arranged for Mr Sams and his daughter Joanne to meet with then health secretary Andrew Lansley and the GMC chief-executive.

Mr Barclay said: “No change in the law can bring Nikki back but the least I could do for Mr Sams was to try to help ensure that any other family who suffers such a loss as a result of a negligent doctor is able to appeal a decision where the disciplinary process has not worked.

“It was clear that there was an imbalance in the way a doctor could appeal against a tribunal decision that they regarded as being harsh, but the family of a deceased patient did not have an equal right of appeal nor did the GMC on their behalf.”

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