Patient turned away from hospital for life saving surgery THREE TIMES because there were no available beds
Stephen Jones, 62, was turned away three times in two weeks after taking three 150-mile round trips to a Plymouth hospital for heart bypass surgery
14:06 GMT, 10 September 2012
Exhausted: Heart patient Stephen Jones, aged 62, has said he does not blame hospital staff for his treatment, but admits it has left him 'dispirited'
A heart patient was forced to travel 450 miles to and from hospital for life-saving surgery – only for it to be cancelled THREE TIMES.
Stephen Jones, 62, was turned away three times in two weeks after taking three 150-mile round trips to hospital for heart bypass surgery.
He is now patiently waiting for a major operation to replace a failing heart valve after being sent home untreated on August 24, 31 and September 5.
Mr Jones, who suffers from heart disease, angina, asthma, emphysema and clinical depression, has said how exhausted he is by the repeated setbacks.
The former health and safety consultant, from Tiverton, Devon, said: 'I'm exhausted mentally and physically.
'I've been backwards and forwards, building myself up again and again.
'Each time I go into hospital I have to arrange for a friend to come and stop at mine to look after my two dogs while I am in hospital.
'I have to arrange for my son to drive me in and pick me up.
'This is, including me, three people that are affected directly by this situation.
'I myself have had to prepare mentally for this operation each time only for that preparation to be dashed.'
Mr Jones, who has to travel to Derriford hospital in Plymouth, said he does not blame hospital staff, but the NHS restructuring putting increased pressure on services.
He was diagnosed with heart disease in 1996 following a heart attack.
'Extremely sorry': A spokesperson for Derriford Hospital blamed unexpected emergency patients requiring Intensive Care Unit beds for the Mr Jone's cancellations and apologised for the 'inadvertent distress and inconvenience' caused
He was admitted to Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital on August 10 after suffering chest pains and disorientation.
After being told his heart had 'two years left in it', he was referred to Derriford's specialist heart unit for an operation on August 24.
However, the operation was cancelled on the day at 4pm, after Mr Jones had gone 16 hours without food in preparation.
He was then told to return on August 31, which he did, however, it was cancelled again after his operation was dropped due to urgency, despite Mr Jones having endured another 12 hours of fasting.
It was then rescheduled for a third time – to September 6.
But when he arrived at the hospital the day before the procedure he was informed the surgery had been cancelled yet again.
Mr Jones said: 'My last thee experiences in Derriford have left me dispirited.
Over-stretched: Derriford Hospital in Plymouth cancelled Mr Jones's surgery three times, sending him home untreated on each occasion
'Not because of the staff, who have been really exceptional, but the way that the NHS is being tinkered with to make it unworkable.
'Over the last eighteen months I seen a deterioration in the provision, not a drop in standards but a state of stretching of resources.'
His next surgery date has been set for this Thursday.
Hospital managers said they were 'extremely sorry' for the triple rescheduling, which was due to emergency cases limiting intensive care beds.
A Derriford Hospital spokeswoman said staff are doing their best to ensure that the procedure planned for September 13 takes place as planned.
She said: 'We are extremely sorry that Mr Jones' planned operation has been rescheduled on three separate occasions and sincerely apologise for the inadvertent distress and inconvenience caused to Mr Jones and his family for these instances.
'Unfortunately the availability of our intensive care beds was limited due to emergency patients and some patients requiring more complex care than predicted, hence experiencing a longer recovery.'