Operation jinx strikes for cancer patient again

editorial image

A JINXED Hucknall man battling cancer has been given an ‘unreserved apology’ by a hospital trust after he had a vital operation cancelled for a FIFTH time.

Jeff James, of Perlethorpe Drive — formerly known as DJ Soulman Sam — said: “It has become unbelievably frustrating.”

OPERATION JINX -- Jeff James, whose surgery has been cancelled for a fifth time

OPERATION JINX -- Jeff James, whose surgery has been cancelled for a fifth time

The Dispatch previously revealed that the 56-year-old has been waiting since early this year for the last in a series of three operations to repair his cancer-damaged spine and relieve pain he is suffering.

He thought it was finally going to happen when he went to the Queen’s Medical Centre (QMC), Nottingham, on Monday last week.

He even got so far as to wear a patient’s gown.

“I had a few tests of my blood and then I waited for a bed to become available,” said Jeff. “But while I was sitting in the corridor of the day unit, a surgeon came up and apologised that the operation could not go ahead.”

A new date for the op has now been fixed for Monday July 9 and Jeff is hoping it will be a case of sixth time lucky.

Jeff was diagnosed with cancer in September 2009 but it was brought under control by radiotherapy treatment. The three operations were seen as the next stage of his recovery and he has undergone two of them.

Widely-publicised scrapping of ‘non-emergency’ surgery appointments at the QMC and Nottingham City Hospital have not helped. More than 550 operations at the hospitals were axed in less than four months.

But Jeff said: “The latest postponement of my op occurred because there was a mix-up somewhere along the line and it was too late to do it. If they go beyond a certain point, they are out of time.

“The surgeons are thinking of my own safety. It’s a complicated operation that needs an early start in case something goes wrong later.”

The operation was initially to have been carried out on Monday January 23. But so far this year it has been an ongoing tale of exasperation for Jeff and his partner, Elaine Turton.

Jeff stresses that the treatment he has so far received has been absolutely first-class and the hospital staff who have helped him were ‘great’. He adds that he also recognises that trauma patients require immediate attention and there are people worse off than himself.

He said his condition was not getting rapidly worse because of the delays and he was on medication for such reasons as to strengthen his bones. But he pointed out that the current state of ‘limbo’ meant that he cannot get on with his life and he was unable to make any plans because of the ‘waiting game’.

The physical impact of the cancer has caused Jeff to lose his engineering job and he faces a six-month recovery period after the final op.

“You get all keyed up, thinking the operation is to go ahead, and it is a big let-down when it does not happen,” he said.

Jeff made a complaint to Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust, which runs the QMC and the City Hospital, and he even took his case as far as Prime Minister David Cameron after the third cancellation.

The trust’s chief executive, Peter Homa, said: “We apologise unreservedly to Mr James for the distress and upset caused by the cancellations.

“Regrettably, Mr James’s operation was cancelled following a decision that it would be clinically unsafe for this highly complex and high-risk spinal surgery to go ahead due to a later than planned start time. This would not have allowed sufficient time if any surgical complications had arisen.

“Our much-improved performance has continued since the end of April, with significantly fewer cancellations. In May we cancelled nine ‘on-the-day’ operations due to bed availability, compared to 291 (for beds) between January and April.”