United Kingdom

Man, 43, battling cancer fears he may die as Covid pandemic delays vital surgery

A man battling cancer fears he will die after vital surgery has been delayed with no rescheduled date because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Craig Stevens was diagnosed with Grade 3 skin cancer last month and was assured surgery would take place at Birmingham’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital this month.

But this week surgeons broke the news to the 43-year-old that the operation was being postponed with no indication of when it would take place, BirminghamLive reports.

Craig says medics told him they are used to getting theatre availability once a day but the slots were becoming increasingly scarce due to demand.

Craig was diagnosed with grade 3 skin melanoma on December 7.

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The 43-year-old fears he could die

The cancer is in his lymph nodes and under his arm and neck and two surgeons assured him on December 17 his operation would take place in January due to the severity of the cancer.

The date was set to hit a 31 day target from diagnosis to treatment.

But he said he was told on Thursday, January 7, that no date was available and there was no indication as to when it would take place.

The University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust, which runs the hospital, confirmed some procedures could be delayed “due to the large and increasing number of very sick patients we are caring for”.

Man, 43, battling cancer fears he may die as Covid pandemic delays vital surgery
Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham

Craig, who lives in Edgbaston, Birmingham, and works in financial services, has lodged a formal complaint but said he fears the delay could cost him his life.

“I was told the cancer will spread if they take no action and operate,” he said.

“This stalling could cost me my life.

“I am shocked, appalled, and worried to death about my prospects going forward. I have been turned away from the hospital with no hope and date of treatment and operation.”

Man, 43, battling cancer fears he may die as Covid pandemic delays vital surgery
Demand has surged at the hospital due to the pandemic

Craig said he has sent a complaint about the hospital’s failure to manage the situation.

He said: “There must be lots of other people in the same position as me. I know we are in the middle of a pandemic but Covid is not the only disease which is taking people’s lives.

“I have written a letter of formal complaint to the hospital.

“This is not a complaint against any of the doctors or surgeons I have seen, it is about the failure to manage this situation, which I consider to be gross negligence. Basically, they are putting my life at risk.”

A spokesperson for University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust said: ” We are working to ensure urgent treatments and cancer surgery are maintained as far as possible for patients, however some procedures and surgical activity may be delayed due to the large and increasing number of very sick patients we are caring for.

“We regret that any procedure must be delayed and apologise for the understandable distress this can cause.”


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