A BRAVE battle against cancer by a Hucknall man has been sabotaged by the repeated cancellation of a life-altering operation.
Jeff James, who is well known in his former guise as DJ Soulman Sam, was diagnosed with a cancer that was attacking his spine in September 2009.
The 55-year-old, of Perlethorpe Drive, met the incurable illness head on and won the battle to bring it under control after receiving radiotherapy treatment.
The next step of his recovery was a series of three operations to repair his spine and free him from pain.
Two of Jeff’s operations were carried out last year. But the third has been cancelled THREE TIMES — after he was caught up in an ongoing controversy that has resulted in the scrapping of hundreds of ‘non-emergency’ surgery appointments at Nottingham’s main two hospitals since the turn of the year.
“I think I have been really patient over this but things have now become incredibly frustrating,” said Jeff.
“I cannot just get on with my life. I have dealt with the cancer but this is just hanging over me.
“All I want to do is get on with it, so I can get back to normal and start my recovery.”
The cancer has left Jeff’s spine deformed. The first operations — last July and September — reinforced his spine with cement and screws.
The final surgery is to insert rods into the spine to ease pain and compensate for a curve that has been caused by the cancer.
The op was initially scheduled for Monday January 23. When Jeff phoned up a few days before, he was told it had been cancelled.
The surgery was re-arranged for Thursday February 9. But when Jeff arrived at the hospital at 6.30 am, he was placed in a room with nine other patients. Several hours later, two were granted beds but the other eight were sent home in disappointment.
A third date, Monday April 16, was offered to Jeff. But on Friday April 13, he received the call he was dreading and the operation was cancelled again.
More than 550 operations have been axed at the Queen’s Medical Centre (QMC) in Nottingham and at Nottingham City Hospital in less than four months.
Jeff, who lives with partner Elaine Turton, has no idea when he will finally get his operation. He has already lost his job in engineering because of the physical impact of the cancer.
He has submitted a formal complaint to Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust, which runs the QMC and City Hospital, and has even written to the Prime Minister.
“I’m no fool,” said Jeff, who faces a six-month recovery period after the final op. “I appreciate that trauma patients come in and there are people worse off than me.
“Also, the treatment I have received so far has been is first class. I cannot fault it, and the staff are great.
“But with the delays, you cannot plan anything. You are constantly playing a waiting game.
“Looking on the dark side, I don’t know what I will be like after the operation. This is major surgery.
“It feels like I have sorted the cancer. But I’m now being held back.”
Many politicians, including Graham Allen (Lab), of Bulwell, have called for an inquiry into the cancelled appointments.
Chief executive of the hospitals’ Trust, Peter Homa, says the reason for the cancellations is added pressure on resources caused by an increase in emergency cases and an increase in the number of frail and elderly patients being admitted.
A spokesman for the Trust said: “We apologise to Mr James for cancelling his operation — and for the additional stress this causes.
“Since the new year, we have seen unprecedented numbers of patients coming to our emergency department (ED) at the QMC — as well as record numbers of emergency admissions.
“Last year, we averaged 450 people a day in our ED. This year, it has rarely dropped below 500 and has often reached as high as 580.
“Because of this extreme demand for emergency care, we have had to prioritise patients who need the most urgent treatment and reschedule some planned operations.”