Man's 18-month delay for brain tumour op as thousands on waiting lists

RAF veteran Colin Allison from Norwich had treatment for a brain tumour delayed as a result of Covi

RAF veteran Colin Allison from Norwich had treatment for a brain tumour delayed as a result of Covid-19. Picture: Steve Allison - Credit: Archant

The family of a Norfolk man have described their agonising 18-month wait for his brain tumour surgery as thousands of patients in the region join a growing waiting list for operations.

RAF veteran Colin Allison, from Surlingham, was told he needed urgent treatment after it was found his tumour had grown 300pc from his last routine check but faced delay after delay due to the pandemic.

His son Steve, who lives in Norwich, said the feeling of not knowing when his dad would be called for treatment was the worst part. 

Thousands of patients across Norfolk and Waveney are experiencing the effects of delays for treatment following the coronavirus pandemic.

The last known figures released around waits stood at 85,966 operations postponed, with more than 9,000 waiting more than a year. 

Steve Allison from Norwich

Steve Allison from Norwich has spoken of the affect waiting 18 months for his dad Colin Allison to have surgery for a second time on a brain tumour pressing on his spinal cord. Picture: Steve Allison - Credit: Archant

Mr Allison had an operation on the tumour in 2008 but in December 2019 began experiencing pressure migraines again. After waiting six weeks for a scan, it was found the tumour had seen a 300pc growth. 

A further scan last summer showed the tumour had grown a further 50pc and was wrapping around his spinal cord. 

The family spent months calling about updates but were reassured he would be "contacted soon" for the complex procedure.  

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Mr Allison underwent the operation at Addenbrooke's Hospital, in Cambridge, on April 10 this year. 

The day delivered a "massive sense of relief", said his 33-year-old son, after months of watching his father falling up to four times a day. 

He said: "He was terribly scared. He didn't know what was going to happen. It was the not knowing that was the worst bit. 

"He was told he needed urgent surgery, he was told how bad it was, he was told what the outcome was likely to be.

"We had planned his funeral and did his will. We planned for the worst case scenario, we did so little planning for the outcome that has happened. We planned for him not being here."

"He was falling three to four times a day. He had cuts all over him, it was like he was beaten up or had a fight with a bramble bush he was falling over so many times. He was really unstable.

"Watching your loved one deteriorate that fast was just awful."

A Cambridge University Hospital spokesman said while working to reschedule appointments as quickly as possible, patients are urged to contact their GP or hospital team if they feel their condition has changed.

The spokesman added: “We are pleased that Colin has had his operation and wish him well in his recovery.

A spokesperson for the Norfolk and Waveney Health and Care Partnership said staff had been able to carry out the most urgent operations during the winter with hospital bosses saying trusts will work together to beat the backlog.

They said: “Our colleagues are still working extremely hard in partnership with each other to continue to restore elective programmes, as well as maximising theatre and diagnostic capacity; the pandemic has had an inevitable impact on the NHS, but we are doing everything we can to see and treat people as quickly as possible according to clinical need.”

Mr Allison said this was the best idea going forward but worried how many people would get a worse diagnosis as a result of waiting.

He said: "This situation shouldn't have been allowed to happen. We didn't know there was going to be a pandemic but there should be some sort of plan for the worst case scenario.

"Most families are going to hell and back, I know we did." 

A survey by this paper received more than 40 responses from patients waiting who shared their understanding and frustration over the waits they are facing for treatment.

Many are experiencing increasing pain but are unable to consider private treatment due to the cost. 

Maggie Pattison has decided to go private and pay for a hip replacement.

Maggie Pattison has decided to go private and pay for a hip replacement. - Credit: Maggie Pattison

Maggie Pattison, from East Rudham, knew she would need a hip replacement and decided private treatment was the best way forward. 

The 68-year-old enjoys an active lifestyle, but felt the pain was beginning to impinge on her life.

With growing lists she decided to go private and will have surgery on Thursday at the Spire Hospital.

She said: "I knew I would need a hip replacement at some stage, prior to Covid.

"I do not know what the waiting lists are. I saw it on the news and I'm thinking 'I could be waiting at least 18 months to two years'. I do not want to wait that length of time. 

"It was getting much worse the pain I was experiencing. 

"Just sitting in a theatre seat for that length of time, it was becoming really difficult.

"I used to love coming into Norwich and going shopping. I was having to get to the shop I wanted and go out. It was really beginning to impinge on my life.

She added: "The last year I have been virtually at home and I have saved money. I've not gone on holiday so treating myself to a three-day stay at Spire is my exotic holiday this year."

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