A former senior NHS official plans to sue the organisation after he had to pay a private hospital £20,000 for potentially life-saving cancer surgery because NHS care was suspended due to COVID-19.
Rob McMahon, 68, decided to seek private treatment after Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS trust told him that he would have to wait much longer than usual for a biopsy. He was diagnosed with prostate cancer after an MRI scan on 19 March, four days before the lockdown began.
McMahon was due to see a consultant urologist on 27 March but that was changed to a telephone consultation and then did not take place for almost two weeks.
“At that appointment, the consultant said: ‘Don’t worry, these things are slow-growing. You’ll have a biopsy but not for two or three months.’ I thought, ‘that’s a long time’, so decided to see another consultant privately for a second opinion.”
A PET-CT scan confirmed that he had a large tumour on both lobes of the prostate and a biopsy showed the cancer was at risk of breaking out of the prostate capsule and spreading into his body. He then paid to undergo a radical prostatectomy at a private Spire hospital.
“This is care that I should have had on the NHS, not something that I should have had to pay for myself. I had an aggressive cancer. I needed urgent treatment – there was no time to waste,”, he said. “With the pandemic, he added, “it was almost like a veil came down over the NHS. He worked for the NHS for 17 years as a manager in hospitals in London, Birmingham and Redditch, Worcestershire, and was the chief executive of an NHS primary care trust in Leicester.”
Mary Smith of Novum Law, McMahon’s solicitors, said: “Unfortunately, Rob’s story is one of many we are hearing about from cancer patients who have been seriously affected by the disruption to oncology services as a result of COVID-19."
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Source: The Guardian, 11 July 2020