Norfolk patients tell of cancelled operation stress
PUBLISHED: 08:54 08 January 2015 | UPDATED: 08:55 08 January 2015
With an election looming, politicians are already arguing over the state of our overwhelmed NHS. But what is the real cost of a stretched NHS?
Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital statement
“We are very sorry we have had to cancel some operations this week.
“We have experienced significant emergency demand which has meant the hospital has been under exceptional pressure and this has led to us rescheduling some operations. All cases are reviewed and prioritised according to clinical need and re-booked accordingly.
“We understand this is distressing to patients and we are sorry for the disruption and upset this has caused.”
Reporter KIM BRISCOE spoke to some of the patients affected at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital after it reached capacity and declared an “internal major incident” on Monday afternoon and was forced to cancel planned operations.
• One small business counting the cost of cancelled operations, which could run into thousands of pounds of lost takings, is Relish Restaurant and Bar in Newton Flotman.
Chef Jeremy Parke, 40, who runs the business with his wife Rachael, was due to go to hospital yesterday for an operation and so the couple had planned to close until Sunday, had given their staff time off on holiday and ran down all their food supplies.
Mr Parke had a pacemaker fitted when he was 36, but it recently became clear that his circulation was very poor in his legs and he needed an operation on his veins.
The couple, who have three daughters, rang at 10.15am to check if the operation was still going ahead, but when they got to hospital at 11am, they discovered it had been cancelled.
Mrs Parke said: “Financially, how can we afford to do this again at the drop of a hat?”
Relish is now hoping to reopen for Friday night and the Parkes are hoping customers will support them through this difficult time.
• Robert Woodfield from Norwich Road, Fakenham, was due to have an operation on his abdominal aortic aneurysm on Tuesday, but after waiting at the hospital for three hours was finally told it would be cancelled as there were no high dependency beds available.
The operation has been rescheduled for January 20, and while the grandfather-of-nine and his family say they understand the pressure the hospital and its staff are under, they now have to spend the next two weeks worrying that if his aneurysm bursts the consequences could be fatal.
The 66-year-old’s aneurysm was picked up by a newly-introduced screening programme 18 months ago and has been monitored since then, but before Christmas doctors decided it had worsened to the extent that it was time to operate.
He was given an option of keyhole surgery but was told shortly before he was due to have the operation that this would no longer be an option as it looked like another aneurysm was developing beneath the existing one and he would need to be opened up.
Mr Woodfield, a retired RAF Flight Lieutenant, said: “My emotions were on a roller coaster. It’s major surgery and there’s always the chance that something goes wrong and so I was apprehensive, as were my wife and daughters.
“It’s worrying because they are working at maximum capacity all of the time and so there doesn’t seem to be a contingency.”
His daughter Juliana Rands, who also lives in Fakenham, added: “You do worry more because he’s got two weeks to wait and if anything happened to him in those two weeks then he would become a statistic. It’s frightening to think it’s happening to so many people at the moment.”
• For widow Angela Gordon, the stress of having her operation cancelled for a second time has been heightened by the traumatic death of her 43-year-old husband in 2012, after his stroke was misdiagnosed at a London hospital.
The 43-year-old mum-of-two, from North Walsham, said while the kidney stones she was due to have removed are not painful, both she and her 11-year-old twins have been extremely anxious about the surgery.
She said: “Anything to do with hospital is quite scary for us and having it put back again is not good for stress levels.
“We need more hospitals and we need more beds.”
Mrs Gordon had originally been due to have the operation before Christmas, but it was cancelled and rescheduled for Monday. It has now been put back until January 19.
She praised staff for diagnosing and successfully operating on the underlying condition causing her kidney stones, and added: “It’s the staff I feel sorry for.”