A piece in today’s Times:
A cancer patient whose surgery was cancelled due to the pandemic is paying for it to be done privately by the same NHS consultant after a fundraising drive by friends and family.
Daniel Derry is one of thousands of patients whose surgery is deemed non-urgent under NHS guidance introduced to ease the pressure on hospitals.
He was diagnosed with bowel cancer last March after turning 37. He and his wife Lenka, 30, had just returned home to the Cotswolds from honeymoon.
Unlike millions of others who have missed vital screenings, Derry managed to see an oncologist just before the first lockdown. “It was such a shock, I didn’t really have any symptoms,” he said. “The hardest thing was trying to work out how to tell my family.”
After initial surgery and months of chemotherapy he was due to have a procedure to fit a stoma in his bowel, but it was cancelled when the second wave of the virus hit. A second operation is needed to remove two polyps that could grow into tumours. This can only take place once the stoma fitting has healed. “It was cancelled as it wasn’t considered urgent,” he said. “I considered it to be very urgent.”
Under pandemic guidance, patients who need urgent surgery are treated by NHS medics in private hospitals. Those whose surgeries aren’t considered urgent must wait or pay for private treatment. A growing number of patients are turning to the private sector for treatment considered non-urgent.
Derry, a former procurement officer with the Ministry of Defence, owns a business with his brother selling British beef products. “My need to isolate and recover has meant I’ve been absent from the company and unable to pay myself a wage,” he said.
Derry’s friends and family set up a fundraising page and the £8,000 needed was raised in three days. His procedure is booked for February 16.
Michelle Mitchell, chief executive of Cancer Research UK, said: “Cancer care is continuing in most places but it is extremely concerning that in some parts of the country, cancer patients have had their surgery postponed. The government and NHS leaders need to ensure that NHS hospitals have enough resources so that every patient can access it through the NHS.”
An NHS spokesman said: “Patients continue to receive surgery based on clinical need, making best use of existing facilities and independent sector sites.”
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