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Patients were shocked when they received a text from their GP telling them they had lung cancer – only to learn the message was supposed to say "Merry Christmas".
It is thought that hundreds of people may have received the unfortunate text message from Askern Medical Practice, Doncaster – including one man who was waiting for lung cancer test results, as reported exclusively by the Sun.
When property developer Chris Reed, 57, received the message, he said his partner broke down sobbing.
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He tried to call the surgery but said he couldn't get through, so ran to his GP practice and demanded to see a doctor.
There, he was told the message was sent by mistake and his results were negative, meaning he didn't have cancer.
Chris, of Norton, South Yorkshire, said: "They went from, 'You've got lung cancer' to 'Merry Christmas' in about an hour. Unbelievable."
Patients received the text on Christmas Eve, which diagnosed "aggressive lung cancer with metastases", meaning a cancer that has spread and is likely incurable.
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The message also requested a DS1500, a form used by people with terminal illnesses to claim the necessary benefits.
The message read: "From the forwarded letters at CMP, Dr […] has asked for you do a DS1500 for the above patient. Diagnosis – Aggressive lung cancer with metastases. Thanks."
Following the erroneous messages, the surgery sent out an apology and included their original seasonal well-wishes.
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The second message said: "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. In case of emergency please contact NHS 111."
However, some patients even complained that the well-intentioned apology didn't work as intended, either.
One patient said: "I’ve had Merry Christmas three times so far."
Another posted to Facebook saying: "[The text] worried the life out of me then got an apology from them saying it should have been wishing me a merry Christmas. This is disgusting."
The Daily Star has contacted Askern Medical Practice for comment.
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