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Trust faces fresh criticism over hospital operation cancellations

Thursday, 23 March 2017

THE Western Trust is facing fresh criticism after a Carrickmore farmer came forward to reveal that his operation for a hernia repair was cancelled while he was already on a hospital bed at the South West Acute Hospital, Enniskillen.

The local man - who is in his 40s and doesn't wish to be named - contacted the Tyrone Constitution in the wake of our story which highlighted the frustration of a fellow Tyrone farmer who claimed he had an operation for a similar procedure postponed on three separate occasions.

Speaking out in anger, the Carrickmore man claims he was on a hospital bed on March 3 and fully prepared for the procedure only to be informed some hours later that it wasn't to go ahead after all. He says he walked out in "total disgust".

It came only weeks after he was given only a day's notice that an initial arranged operation on February 10 was postponed.

"Around 19 years ago I had to undergo a hernia repair on my left side," he explained.

"Last year I began to suffer a great deal pain on the right side and towards the end of the year I was referred to a consultant who said I needed surgery.

"I have a lot of swelling in an area close to the groin and it does cause quite some pain but as a farmer I have had to work on.

"When I was given a date for surgery, initially scheduled in February, I spent a long time organising the farmyard in preparation for an absence.

"My son, who is currently on placement, and wife both took some annual leave to help.

"However, I was informed only the day before that the operation was postponed.

"I was given a new date for March 3 and was told it would be an afternoon surgery. Again, family members had booked off work.

"When I arrived at the hospital on the day I was shown to my room for the night, I had bloods taken, paperwork was signed, an anaesthetist had seen me and a doctor had even marked where I would have my surgery!"

However, some time passed and he had yet to be seen to.

"A nurse explained that morning surgery had run over but they hoped the operation would still go ahead. At around 4.30pm however I was informed it was cancelled," he continued.

He walked out in "disgust", an action the man regrets. "I should have stayed and waited on a doctor but I was just so frustrated," he said.

The Trust has arranged a new date for the operation at the end of this month but due to his "farming commitments", the man won't be able to go through with a procedure until after the summer.

"It's disgraceful. The hernia won't improve but I cannot go through with this surgery until after the summer now," he said. "A farm doesn't work like an office, you can't just get up and leave, particularly in the summer months.

"I didn't receive a letter of apology or anything. I called to complain but couldn't get speaking to anyone.

"I understand the needs of those involved in road accidents and cancer patients need to be prioritised but there needs to be more theatres."

Meanwhile, the vice-chairman of the Fermanagh and Omagh District Council, Bert Wilson, said the political uncertainty Northern Ireland currently faces "isn't helping anyone".

"It's unbelievable that this man had even been marked by a doctor only for the operation to be cancelled some time later," he said.

"It's not good enough. He had made arrangements for the farm to be managed for a period but now we're approaching the farmers' really busy time and he can't go through with the surgery for some time.

"And there's a lot of people in similar situations, someone could end up losing their life over this.

"I am worried because the Executive is yet to get back up and running. The political uncertainty isn't helping anyone and now they're talking about another election! There is no budget in place and it's a total mess.

"The health service in the west of the province is a total disaster at the moment. The hospital in Enniskillen is currently failing the people and any new Executive needs to prioritise the health of the people in this region."

In a statement to the Tyrone Constitution, a Western Health and Social Care Trust (Western Trust), spokesperson said: "Respecting confidentiality the Western Trust does not comment on the individual treatment and care of its patients or clients.

 "On occasion routine procedures are postponed for a variety of reasons and may occur more in times of increased pressure on the hospital and its services.

"The Trust will prioritise procedures, always ensuring those with the greatest clinical need will receive their treatment as quickly as possible. Priority is given to cancer and clinically urgent patients  

  "It is regrettable when any procedure is postponed and the Trust apologises sincerely for inconvenience caused to the patient and their family.

"When procedures are postponed, our staff work hard to reschedule appointments for the patients affected."

  The spokesperson continued: "We would encourage anyone with a comment or complaint about a Trust service to raises it through the Trust's complaints process - the Patients' Advocate Office. The Patients' Advocate Office can be contacted on (028) 7161 1226. All complaints received are investigated promptly and a response issued to the person making the complaint as soon as possible."

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