A cancer patient had a vital operation cancelled for a second time just minutes before he was due to go into theatre – due to overcrowding at a “chaotic” hospital.
Bruce Knight, 73, was wearing a surgical gown and socks and waiting to be taken for the potentially life-saving surgery when he was told there were no beds available.
Earlier in the day an anaesthetist told him he would be taken down in 30 minutes- but he waited four hours on a ward until somebody came.
He was eventually told at around lunchtime the hospital was too full and he should get dressed and go back home because the procedure had been cancelled.
Bruce, who has pancreatic cancer, was due to have the essential operation at Coventry University Hospital to remove his gall bladder and part of his pancreas.
He had one op called-off on January 10 because of a “red alert” and the most recent cancellation was on January 17.
Hospital bosses have now apologised to Bruce and his wife Val, 71, after the surgery was scrapped for the second time in less than a month.
Today Bruce, of Nuneaton, Warks., said: “I was due to have the operation at around nine o’clock in the morning.
“I found out at lunchtime that it had been cancelled. It was because of the lack of high dependency beds.
“It is supposed to be a six to eight hour operation and the surgeon said it needed doing sooner rather than later.
“Because the hospital is a major treatment centre for the area, they simply need more high dependency beds. It sounds like chaos there.
“I need two surgeons to do my operation because it takes a long time and everything was in place until it fell down for the lack of beds.
“It’s simply not good enough. I’m sitting here with a tumour that needs removing.
“Surely, that is something that needs doing pretty urgently.”
Bruce was diagnosed with cancer of the pancreas in March last year.
He underwent gruelling radiotherapy and chemotherapy sessions up until November which shrunk the tumour enough for him to have the procedure.
Gran-of-five, Val added: “We’re worried the longer this goes on the more chance there is of the tumour growing again.
“This is not good enough.
“Who knows what could happen to him if he doesn’t have this operation.
“How can they cancel surgery for cancer patients?
“This needs drawing attention to, how can a hospital that big not have enough high dependency beds.
“I e-mailed the chief executive at the Walsgrave the first time Bruce’s operation was cancelled and he or his PA have not even had the decency to respond to it.
“It is having an impact on the family, on our grandchildren, it is not fair.
“If my husband dies, I will sue the hospital, but that’s not what I want, I want him alive.
“We received no response to our e-mails because the ‘PA was sick’ which is just not good enough.
“Everybody I have asked has said that they cannot guarantee that it won’t get cancelled again.
“Next time, I’m going to stay in the hospital overnight and I am not leaving, I am not coming home until the operation is done.
“It can’t be cancelled again, it just can’t – because of the time scale and the stress is killing us.
“It is affecting us, it’s affecting our children and it’s affecting our grandchildren.
“What we are worried about is the fact that we have a timespan for when we need to operate and we must be close to that now.”
University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust has apologised to the couple and Bruce’s operation has now been rescheduled for February 7.
David Eltringham, chief operating officer at UHCW, said: “Like almost every NHS hospital in the country we have recently seen high demand for our services and we have had to take some incredibly difficult and rare decisions based on the clinical needs of our patients.
“The patient’s operation was cancelled on one occasion because the hospital was full, including our intensive care unit.
“I sincerely apologise for the distress that the cancellation has caused, but the hospital is working with the patient to put a plan in place that is acceptable to him.”
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