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Heart operation was cancelled three times

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: September 10, 2012

Heart patient Stephen Jones, of, Witheridge, near Tiverton, whose operation has been cancelled three times in three weeks

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Hospital managers have apologised to a patient whose open-heart surgery was cancelled three times within two weeks.

Stephen Jones, aged 62, is waiting for a major bypass operation to replace a failing heart valve.

He has travelled to Derriford Hospital in Plymouth for the procedure three times only to be sent home untreated – on August 24 and 31, and September 5.

Mr Jones said he is exhausted by the repeated setbacks.

He suffers from heart disease, angina, asthma, emphysema and clinical depression.

Hospital managers said they are "extremely sorry" for the triple rescheduling, which was due to emergency cases limiting intensive care beds.

The surgery has been set for Thursday.

Mr Jones, a former health and safety consultant, said: "I'm exhausted mentally and physically.

"Each time I go into hospital I have to arrange for a friend to come and stop at mine to look after my two dogs while I am in hospital. I have to arrange for my son to drive me in and pick me up.

"This is, including me, three persons that are affected directly by this situation."

Mr Jones lives in Witheridge, near Tiverton, which is about a 150-mile round trip to Derriford.

He said hospital staff have been "brilliant" and blamed delays on NHS restructuring putting increased pressure on services.

Mr Jones was diagnosed with heart disease in 1996 following a heart attack.

He was admitted to Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital on August 10 after suffering chest pains and disorientation.

An electrocardiogram (ECG) test revealed his aortic heart valve had weakened to 60 per cent of its capacity. Mr Jones said he was told it had "two years left in it".

He was discharged from Exeter on August 14 and referred to Derriford's specialist heart unit for an operation on August 24.

He turned up in Plymouth on August 23 as requested.

The operation was cancelled the following day at 4pm – after 16 hours without food in preparation – and rescheduled for August 31.

After turning up for the second time, Mr Jones said he was dropped down the priority list from first to second because of urgency.

The operation was then cancelled at midday on the 31st – this time after 12 hours of fasting.

The procedure was rescheduled for a third time – to September 6, but again cancelled.

Mr Jones said: "My last thee experiences in Derriford have left me dispirited.

"Not because of the staff, who have been really exceptional, but the way that the NHS is being tinkered with to make it unworkable. "

A Derriford Hospital spokesman said staff were doing their very best to ensure that the procedure planned for September 13 takes place.

She said: "We are extremely sorry that Mr Jones' planned operation has been rescheduled on three separate occasions and sincerely apologise for the inadvertent distress and inconvenience.

"Unfortunately the availability of our intensive care beds was limited due to emergency patients and some patients requiring more complex care than predicted, hence experiencing a longer recovery."

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