‘He’s been in agony’ – Mum of two-year-old highlights consequences of NHS delays caused by coronavirus

Inset: Sophie Hutchinson and Cody

Patients have spoken out about the impact of appointments and operations delayed due to coronavirus – with one mum saying her young son has been left in agony with ear infections.

A York Hospital Trust report from May revealed that more than 44,000 hospital appointments had been cancelled and more than 1,800 elective operations cancelled in response to national guidance.

Patients have praised the “incredible” NHS staff in York – but highlighted the impact of the backlog created as a result of national guidelines to suspend many operations and appointments.

Sophie Hutchinson, mum of two-year-old Cody, had been waiting for her son to have an operation on his ears before lockdown.

She said Cody has had about 30 ear infections and she is worried about the long-term effect on his hearing.

Sophie said: “I have a few friends whose children also need grommets and they are just exhausted from it.

“Cody has had close to 30 ear infections now. I’ve asked the doctor if this is going to make him deaf.

“He’s not been able to hear much through the pandemic. The doctor is so lovely, he’s been keeping us up to date with everything and ringing regularly.

“I don’t blame the NHS, they are more than incredible.”

Waking up screaming

The Royal College of Surgeons said last week that nationally more than one million people are waiting more than 18 weeks for hospital treatment.

Sophie said: “We are just ready to get it done now, he’s been in agony with it and since it’s been getting worse he’s been waking up screaming and pulling at his ears.

“He’s on the urgent list, so every day I’ve been waiting for a letter to say when he can have it done.

“If it’s this bad for a child who needs grommets, I can’t imagine how difficult it must be for other people waiting for operations.”

A York patient who asked not to be named said he has been in “abject pain” waiting for a hip replacement operation – which was cancelled just days before it was due to happen.

He said his main worry is his weight – patients need a BMI below 30 for elective surgery in York – and fears that lockdown and problems with walking mean he may be above the threshold.

He said: “It would be heart-breaking to cross that line and be told ‘I’m afraid we can’t do this because you have gained weight’.

“We had looked at going private. But a hip operation privately these days is close to £20,000.

“I need both hips replacing but one is in desperate need, I can’t walk without sticks.

“I’m in constant pain and it has gone up from pre-Covid, when the pain was about a six out of 10, to an eight or a nine now.

Plans in place

He added: “I’m not blaming Boris, it’s just one of the consequences of this pandemic.

“I am in abject pain. But people with life-threatening diseases in hospitals have got to be given priority. I can cope with the pain. The people with heart problems and cancer – they have got to be seen first.”

A spokesperson for York Hospital Trust said: “We are putting plans in place to resume routine activity, which includes risk assessing and prioritising patients by clinical risk and urgency.

“We recognise that having an operation delayed can be frustrating and cause worry for people.” She said the Trust is making every effort to keep patients informed about treatment.