Coronavirus: NHS cancels man's 'lifesaving' operation

James ByromImage source, Louise Byrom
Image caption,
James Byrom was awake during his seven hour craniotomy, which he paid for privately

A man whose "life-saving" NHS cancer surgery was cancelled because of the coronavirus crisis has had 99% of the tumour removed in a private operation.

James Byrom, 72, was due to have brain surgery at Addenbrooke's Hospital in Cambridge on 6 April, but it was cancelled with three days notice.

His daughter Louise Byrom said he used his own savings to pay for the surgery and felt "very let down" by the NHS.

Addenbrooke's said some procedures were being delayed or delivered differently.

Image caption,
The family were "absolutely devastated" on hearing his NHS operation had been cancelled

Mr Byrom, who lives in Burwell in Cambridgeshire, said he was told he needed "an absolutely life-saving operation" when he was diagnosed on 10 March.

He was offered radiotherapy, which his family said could only give him a few more months.

Ms Byrom said: "We pleaded with the hospital to give us a date for the operation in two weeks or three weeks, but it was absolutely cancelled and not postponed."

At the time, Addenbrooke's Hospital said while working "as hard as we can" to keep cancer services "running as normal"- some procedures were being "delayed or delivered differently".

Image caption,
Mr Byrom's daughter Louise said "there is just no doubt that radiotherapy being an option alone... it would have been a few months before we would have lost him"
Image source, Louise Byrom
Image caption,
He is now awaiting further treatment - but is hoping the lockdown will have ended by June, so he can host his 73rd birthday party in his garden

Mr Byrom paid for an operation on 20 April at the Wellington Hospital in London, using "a lot" of savings.

His daughter Louise Byrom said: "I have received more contact from my daughter's orthodontist than I have from Addenbrooke's.

"I feel very let down and it's been difficult to hear the [private] surgeon looking at the MRI scans and telling us it's not just health-wise a necessity, but morally and ethically it's the right thing to do because this can absolutely prolong life."

Mr Byrom will now pay for radiotherapy and chemotherapy, to "treat the remaining 1%", and can "celebrate still being alive".

"He is a different man, he is feeling fantastic - waking up each day knowing now he's got a future and looking forward to his 73rd birthday in the garden," Ms Byrom added.

In a statement, Addenbrooke's medical director Ashley Shaw reiterated the hospital's message from earlier this month.

"We are working as hard as we can to maintain our clinical services, including performing urgent surgical procedure," he said.

"However, there are some procedures that are being delayed or delivered differently at this time.

"We are taking the time to explain carefully what options we can offer our patients and how this will impact on their outcomes.

"We recognise that this can be extremely stressful for patients at what is already a worrying time."

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