Please help me bring attention to my Dad’s poor treatment by the health care system in the UK by sharing this post.
My Dad was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer about 3 weeks ago and was told if they didn’t operate to remove the growth from his pancreas, he would only have 18 months to live.
The same day that he was diagnosed, he was given an immediate appointment for his surgery as he was told it was urgent they operated as soon as possible to increase his risk of survival.
I live in Germany and I am my Dad’s only living family member, so naturally I booked a flight to England so I could be there for his operation and care for him after.
Welcome to the beginning of The NHS Nightmare.
After arriving in England late on Saturday evening, I met my Dad on Sunday afternoon and we stayed the night at a guest house associated with the Royal London Hospital called James Hora Home. I would like to take a moment to say that the staff at James Hora Home were fantastic and offered us far more information than the hospital did once the following events transpired.
Monday morning rolled around and we made our way to the Royal London Hospital at 6.45am, as he was told to be at the hospital for 7am. He hadn’t eaten since 5pm on Sunday and hadn’t drunk any liquids since 4am that day, exactly as he had been instructed to do so.
At 8.15am we were finally seen by a consultant who took us through all the steps we knew would come. Warnings that the operation may not be successful, he may not wake up, signing over a consent form, blood tests, etc. My Dad was mentally prepared for his operation, I was mentally prepared for all possible outcomes and then we were told they didn’t currently have a bed for him.
Despite this, the anaesthetist told my Dad he could go ahead and get undressed, then wait in the consulting room whilst the hospital staff assessed the bed situation. Fortunately, I suggested that we wait in the waiting room and he undress once they knew if he could have a bed. The anaesthetist told us someone would be right back to us with information.
3 hours later, we were still sat in the waiting room and it was clear there were no beds available. After asking the reception what was going on, we were advised that there were no beds available for anyone. The receptionist said they would check the bed situation again at 12.30pm and get back to us. She had no idea of my Dad’s scheduled operation nor what his medical condition was before telling him this, and nobody who did know what he was there for had come to check on or update him since 8.15am.
1pm came and went and by this point my Dad hadn’t eaten in 13 hours, hadn’t had any fluids in 9 hours and was feeling extremely light heated. Again, nobody had so much as considered that he was still waiting around.
30 minutes later, they called his name and we both collected up all of his things and assumed we were making our way to his operation prep. We stupidly assumed they wouldn’t have left us waiting so long to turn us away.
Unfortunately, we hadn’t even sat down in the consulting room before the junior doctor said “There’s no beds. No operation today.”
What? No beds? Are you kidding? My Dad has life threatening cancer and you have no bed for him? My Dad has travelled for over an hour and stayed overnight in London for a scheduled operation with you, only for you to have no bed available for him?
We were then advised he will have to wait at least 2 weeks to have another operation booked, but more than likely it could be much longer. Not only that, but this could happen again the next time he comes, and the next time, and so on.
In fact, they knew his operation could be cancelled like this and they didn’t think to tell him beforehand, despite how mentally difficult it is to prepare yourself for something like this. Despite the fact that they knew I was flying over from Germany to be with him for the operation. Despite the fact that they knew he had to travel a long way (and pay a lot of money, public transport costs are a joke in the UK) and arrange accommodation for me during his hospital stay.
Not even a warning that this might happen. To say I am pissed off is an understatement. To say I am disappointed with the NHS would be a lie. I’m not disappointed, I’m absolutely disgusted with them and their treatment towards my Dad.
When I asked what would happen if by putting off my Dad’s operation, it enabled my Dad’s cancer to spread, I was told that all they could do was “wait and hope for the best”. They said that they usually give cancer patients a scan every 4 weeks to check for this kind of thing, but it’s currently 3 weeks since his last scan and he has no future scans scheduled.
Four days after this occurred at the Royal London Hospital, we still hadn’t heard anything from them and so my Dad called them to find out what was happening. After fluffing a lot of the conversation with medical jargon, they were still unable to give him a date for his operation.
And so my Dad will have to wait until the NHS have a bed for him to operate on his life threatening cancer and “hope for the best”.
Good job NHS. Good. Job.