Two patients facing further waits of up to six weeks for vital hospital appointments after cancellations due to the junior doctor and consultant strikes have said the delays are “devastating” and “frustrating”.
They are worried about who is responsible for patients’ duty of care while doctors are on strike and have asked for “a better plan going forward”.
Shaun Howe, a delivery driver from the Isle of Wight, developed an infection in his knee replacement and will now have to wait four weeks after his appointment scheduled for Friday was cancelled.
Meanwhile, Lauren Golding from Essex, who is waiting for a diagnosis following sudden hair loss and stomach pains two years ago, was due to see a doctor on Wednesday but has been forced to wait six weeks for a new appointment.
Although Mr Howe and Ms Golding are sympathetic to doctors, they also feel people should be held accountable for cancelled appointments.
Ms Golding, 36, told the PA news agency: “I understand why (doctors are) striking. I have nothing against the NHS, in fact, I feel really sorry for them, but someone has got to take a bit of responsibility.
“The Government are not going to sit there and give me my treatment – that’s what we need specialist consultants and doctors to be doing. There just needs to be a better plan going forward.”
Mr Howe, 53, told PA: “I agree, they’re underpaid by a crazy amount of money. These doctors aren’t paid enough.
“Why do you all have to do it at the same time? How many lives are going to be sacrificed for these strikes?
“These people that are not very well in hospitals, and need these things done to them, all of a sudden that could get put back a day, but that could be a life.”
Mr Howe, who now struggles to walk due to his knee infection, said he fears his cancelled appointment will exacerbate his declining mental health.
He said: “I’m devastated. When you have this injury, you can easily get very depressed, and I’ve already had that situation.
“I’m not depressed now but I know it’s coming, you can feel it.”
He says he has measures in place to maintain his mental health, adding: “I’ve got two lovely girls around me all the time and I’ve just become a granddad, so I’ve got all those nice things around me.
“But when you live alone and get knocked back, like this hospital appointment, it just puts a dampener on things.”
Ms Golding is yet to be diagnosed about her condition and describes her pain as debilitating.
She said: “If I have an outburst with my tummy, it knocks me off my feet for a week.
“I can’t move and there’s shooting pain down my legs.
“I normally have to have time off work because I can’t drive because the pain is so severe.”
The construction worker describes the cancelled appointments and waits as dehumanising and said: “I think we’ve become a number now because there’s so many people in the queue.
“I don’t feel like we’re treated as people. You’re just a number in a queue waiting to tick a box to say ‘this is what you need’.”
Without a formal diagnosis of her condition, she fears her fertility is at risk and is keen to “get answers” from doctors about her condition.
She explained: “I don’t know if it’s something to do with my ovaries and whether or not I can have children.
“As a 36-year-old that, to me, is very on my heart because I’d love to have children and I’m hoping that it’s not going to be anything as serious as that but that can’t be helped in the back of your mind.”
Ms Golding had one gynaecology appointment in December 2022, but has been waiting for another since then, as well as for a dermatology appointment.
Her first dermatology appointment was due in February but was postponed to May while her second appointment due on Wednesday has been pushed back to October 25.
She told PA: “When they cancelled my first one I sat at the end of my bed and cried because I was so distressed because of my hair coming out.
“I still feel really emotional about it. I still feel really frustrated with the whole system.”
Consultants will walk out on Wednesday, when they will be joined by junior doctors in the first joint strike in the history of the NHS.