Plymouth mum has vital brain surgery cancelled three times
A MOTHER has been left "angry" and "devastated" after her life-changing operation was cancelled three times.
A top NHS director at Derriford Hospital has now personally apologised to Rachel Lavis for the delay in her treatment.
The mother-of-four from Plympton has a condition called Idiopathic Intracranial Hypertension which is caused by a build up of brain fluid that can lead to brain damage and blindness.
She has been ill since November 2011 but was only diagnosed in March of this year.
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She is now waiting for a fourth attempt at life-changing brain surgery. Her case is the latest in a number of reports of seriously ill patients suffering repeated cancellations.
The 31-year-old said: "My care at Derriford Hospital has been a nightmare, I am so angry at my lack of care. I just want to be a mother again to my four children and a wife to my husband."
Rachel has also contacted her MP and made an official complaint to the Patient Advice and Liaison service. But since then Dr Alex Mayor, Medical Director for Plymouth Hospitals NHS Trust has personally and publicly apologised. He said: "I have personally apologised to Mrs Lavis and I would also like to take this opportunity to say publicly, on behalf of the Trust, that we are extremely sorry for any distress we have caused to her and her family."
Rachel's operation was initially due to take place on September 16, but was then put back to September 21. It was then moved to September 26 before she received another letter for the operation to be on October 19. Now she has been told her operation will actually take place next week.
Rachel said she was told the operations had to be postponed because there were other people who were in greater need with life threatening brain tumours.
"I can understand it happening once but not repeatedly," she added. Dr Mayor continued: "We are reviewing all of the circumstances surrounding Mrs Lavis' care to see why she has not received the treatment she should have and to ensure Mrs Lavis has her operation as soon as is clinically possible. We appreciate the impact this has had on Mrs Lavis' life and we are truly sorry for this."
Suffering with Idiopathic Intracranial Hypertension, Rachel is constantly tired, suffers from bad insomnia, is light and noise sensitive and has often collapsed.
She added: "It's a very sad existence to constantly be in bed in the dark. It feels like someone is constantly squeezing my brain, then two or three times a day I get an almighty pain, it's so painful and crying makes it worse."
Rachel has four children, Georgia, aged 10, Matthew, aged seven, Jack, aged three, and Lily-Kate, who is 20 months old.
Before being diagnosed Rachel was working as a teaching assistant at Hele's School and enjoyed horse riding, going to the gym and spending time with her children.
Rachel said: "They shouldn't be doing this to people, they need to sort out their policy.
"We're not numbers, we're people, I am a person, I'm a mother and a wife. The children spend more time with their childminder than me. It's just so disappointing, it's devastating. I have to plan and also get mentally prepared.
"It's been really hard, my husband and friends won't pick me up off the floor anymore when I collapse from the pain. It's so distressing and disappointing each and every time."
Gary Streeter, MP for Devon South West, also contacted Derriford Hospital about Rachel's wait. He said: "Generally speaking people get a good service from Derriford Hospital but things have gone on and Rachel has not received the treatment she needed given the seriousness of her case. They have acknowledged that but I was disappointed she suffered from so many postponements."
Earlier this month The Herald told how cancelled operation rates remaining higher than planned at Derriford Hospital. Its report stated the main reasons were theatre lists overrunning, emergencies taking priority and poor availability of general beds.
Stephen Jones, a heart patient waiting for treatment from Derriford Hospital, also fell victim to the delay. He travelled 450 miles to and from hospital after bypass surgery was cancelled three times in a fortnight to replace a failing heart valve.