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‘From pillar to post’: Grandma hit with 9 appointment cancellations after cancer diagnosis

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A grandma-of-four has endured “nine cancelled appointments” since being diagnosed with cancer in 2017. The 72-year-old said she should have check-ups twice a year on her cancer treatment plan, but claims she “has not been seen by her consultant since 2019”. Andrea Hartley was suffering from bowel cancer until she had “life-saving surgery” at North Manchester General Hospital in 2017, which saw her have a colostomy and stoma, reported Manchester Evening News.

Treatment for the retired baker was going according to plan for two years, but since 2019, Andrea says her check-ups have been repeatedly postponed.

Surrounded by letters from the NHS and various Greater Manchester hospitals to cancel and reschedule her appointments at her home in Radcliffe, Andrea says she lodged a formal complaint, which resulted in a scan taking place earlier this year.

But since the scan took place on March 7, she claims she still has not received the results amid the ongoing delays.

“I was diagnosed with bowel cancer in 2017 by one of those tests that comes through the door. I had the operation that saved my life that same year at North Manchester General Hospital,” Andrea told the Manchester Evening News .

“But 2019 is the last time I was seen by my consultant, and I’m supposed to be having two check-ups a year.

“I understand that the pandemic delayed things, but from then, right up until now I’ve had appointment after appointment cancelled. I’ve had nine cancelled appointments for various reasons – most recently because of the IT system issues at the hospitals.”

The experience has left Andrea dismayed and disillusioned.

“I’m being pushed from pillar to post. I know I’m not on my own with it, there will be others who are dealing with this in a more serious condition. What’s happening to them?

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“But I need my check-ups because I have a paranoia caused by the operation. You keep hoping that you wake up the next day alive.

“No one seems to care, I could be dead for all they know. I’m not trying to cause trouble, I know there’s been a pandemic – but my children say ‘are you alright, mum?’ and I just don’t know.

“My next appointment has been rescheduled for August. Who knows if that’s actually going to happen.”

After Manchester Evening News approached Northern Care Alliance NHS Foundation Trust, which organises Andrea’s care, bosses said the clinical team contacted her.

Doctor Vicki Howarth, Medical Director at Bury Care Organisation said: “We would like to apologise to Andrea and her family for any inconvenience caused. We always strive to keep our appointments and where they have to be cancelled, we aim to reschedule them as soon as possible.

“We have been in regular contact with Andrea and her care has been reviewed each year, and we can confirm that a senior member of her clinical team spoke with her yesterday, and if any tests and further appointments are required, they will be arranged without delay.”

Andrea’s story points to the wider conflagration currently engulfing the national healthcare service.

The NHS is being buffeted by delayed waiting times and workforce shortages.

The Royal College of Radiologists claims staff shortages are the “number one concern” among doctors.

Two new workforce reports from the college found radiologists and oncologists are “burned out” and the current situation is “unsustainable.”

Its audit into the clinical oncology workforce concluded that there is a 17 percent shortfall of these medics across the UK.

This shortfall could increase to 26 percent in the next four years, it estimated.

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