A PATIENT was mistakenly told that only people with cancer could get hospital appointments for digestive problems - due to a "clerical error".

Mark Mason was left in pain and discomfort after not receiving test results back for months and was then told that referrals were only being made for cancer patients.

After being cleared of bowel and colon cancer, the 53-year-old found that he was unable to get seen - despite often being unable to work due to his condition.

His GP contacted the Royal Sussex County Hospital in Brighton and was told “colorectal appointments are currently only being made for cancer patients”.

The Argus: Royal Sussex County HospitalRoyal Sussex County Hospital

When Mr Mason contacted The Argus, it turned out that this information was in fact incorrect, with the hospital always accepting appointments. He has now been booked in for an appointment to discuss his results.

Mr Mason said: “The way I’m looking at it, they did the colonoscopy which would have ruled out bowel and colon cancer, so those two things ruled out. Nothing else, so technically there could be other issues in the stomach or anywhere else.

“So they’ve ruled out the two things that they did the urgent referral on. They’ve done the absolute bare minimum.”

Mr Mason spends about one-day a week unable to work and often has to lie in bed due to the discomfort.

The health company director, from Hurstpierpoint, was cleared of bowel and colon cancer after a check-up in December.

After calling the hospital, Mr Mason was told on the phone that non-cancer referrals were not being made - this led to him asking his GP to contact the hospital.

In an email on August 11, hospital staff said they had “not been advised” as to when appointments for non-cancer patients with digestive problems would start being made.

Health chiefs clarified that the email sent to his GP was a “clerical error” and they have always been accepting non-cancer appointments.

Mr Mason said he hoped that no other patients were in the same position as him.

He added: “I have now received an appointment to discuss the results of diagnostic tests conducted at the end of last year and the beginning of this year.

“Covid has been a massive challenge for the NHS as a whole and as such, I tried to be patient.

“The reason I contacted the Argus was purely because I was told by my GP that they had been informed that the trust were not taking any digestive disease referrals unless they were on the two-week cancer pathway. I felt that were this the case, then the public needed to be made aware of it.

Dr Tim Taylor, medical director at University Hospitals Sussex NHS Foundation Trust, said the email had been the result of an office error.

He also apologised for the delay in returning Mr Mason's MRI results from February.

Dr Taylor said: “The information stating that we were only making appointments for cancer referrals and cancer patients was unfortunately a clerical error.

“We’re taking in routine non-cancer referrals as we have been throughout the pandemic. Every case is looked at on its individual merits and two week referrals take precedence, then the next most urgent, and then individual cases based on a consultant’s instruction.

“We apologise for the delay in getting Mr Mason back his MRI results. This has now been done and an appointment has been made to see him.”