We missed out on life-saving treatment just like Kym Marsh’s dad

 LIVING with a series of agonising conditions has left Nick Wilson at breaking point.

The 42-year-old army veteran has a spinal injury, seven slipped discs and fibromyalgia, plus PTSD and depression.

Kym Marsh and her dad Dave who is terminally ill
Kym Marsh and her dad Dave who is terminally illCredit: News Group Newspapers Limited
Ex-soldier Nick Wilson can’t access mental health services
Ex-soldier Nick Wilson can’t access mental health services

Over the course of the pandemic, he says he has been left feeling suicidal and abandoned, and unable to get the treatment he needs so badly.

Nick, from Northampton, is one of millions of people languishing on NHS waiting lists, feeling as though they have been forgotten.

The Iraq and Afghanistan veteran says: “I was just getting to the top of the waiting list to access mental health support after a suicide attempt when lockdown happened.

“I ended up suicidal again and despite telling my GP and the local crisis team, I still wasn’t able to access help.”

Geraldine Joaquim, from Petworth, Surrey, says her cancer diagnosis is a direct result of lockdown delays.

After a routine mammogram in January last year showed calcification but not cancer, Covid cancellations changed everything.

She says: “At the end of March I was told there was no cancer but the calcified cells would need to be removed. Then lockdown began.

“I finally had the cells removed in October but at a follow-up appointment I was told on examination they had turned cancerous.”

Dad knew something wasn’t right but he felt he couldn’t go to the GP during the pandemic

Kym Marsh

The 51-year-old’s case echoes that of Kym Marsh’s dad Dave, who was diagnosed with incurable prostate cancer after putting off a check-up for months.

He is now fighting for his life after his cancer spread to his pelvis, spine, ribs and legs.

Mum-of-four Kym shared her family’s tragic news in an exclusive interview with The Sun and filmed a video for the BBC.

She says: “Dad knew something wasn’t right but he felt he couldn’t go to the GP during that time (the pandemic) so it got left.”

Kym implored others to get a health check and not to ignore symptoms.

She adds: “I’m only talking about this because he has asked me to — it was entirely his decision.

“He wants to use the platform I’ve got to try to encourage other men to get themselves tested soon.

“It’s vital people start to get their wider health checked out and looked after once again.”

Geraldine Joaquim, from Petworth, Surrey, says her cancer diagnosis is a direct result of lockdown delays
Geraldine Joaquim, from Petworth, Surrey, says her cancer diagnosis is a direct result of lockdown delaysCredit: KERRYJ

But it is a situation that is only likely to get worse, former Health Secretary Matt Hancock has warned.

He said the five million already on the list could double as millions more who delayed seeking help during the Covid crisis come forward.

An investigation by The Sun this week revealed the true, devastating impact of the last 16 months for patients across Britain.

Mr Hancock — who resigned as Health Secretary on Saturday — said the exhausted NHS is facing the “biggest pressure in its history” with hospitals being told to brace for up to 12.2million people in need of elective procedures including hip, knee and eye operations.

Around three million people missed out on cancer screenings during the pandemic.

For the first time since records began, the number of people on England’s NHS waiting list has topped five million, with over 2,700 patients waiting more than two years for hospital treatment.

More than 1.5million operations were cancelled or postponed during 2020, and the total is expected to hit almost 2.5million by the end of this year.

230,000 People in the UK waiting to have invasive heart procedures

Alzheimer’s diagnosis figures are down by 34,000, while more than 2,000 cases of childhood cancer are believed to have been missed.

And 1,836 fewer people received an urgent referral for suspected brain cancer — a drop of around 18 per cent — yet there was a 35 per cent increase in the number of brain tumours being diagnosed in A&E between March and August 2020.

The British Heart Foundation says 230,278 people in the UK are waiting for invasive heart procedures and heart operations and there was a 40 per cent decrease in patients admitted with heart attacks in 2020.

Alex Kremer’s three-year-old son Eden now faces a six-month wait to see a specialist for a suspected life-threatening allergy.

The 34-year-old parenting specialist, from Letchworth, Herts, says: “Eden’s never been allergic to anything, but a week ago he developed huge, angry, red, itchy welts on his face and body. We went to the Emergency Department where we were told it’s an allergic reaction.

“He’s been put on steroids and a triple dose of antihistamine and we’ve been given an EpiPen (emergency injector for allergic reactions).

“He hasn’t slept properly for a week, so neither have I and we’re looking at six more months before we get an answer on the NHS.

“I’m terrified as at night he’s struggling to breathe and his face, eyes and mouth swell. Since it first happened on Monday we’ve had two more flare-ups and been back to hospital three times since last week but there’s nothing they can do until we’re seen by an allergy specialist.”

Alex Kremer’s son Eden faces a six-month wait to see an allergy specialist
Alex Kremer’s son Eden faces a six-month wait to see an allergy specialist

While England’s figures are bad, in Northern Ireland statistics show a seven-year wait for certain procedures, with patients waiting 365 weeks for a urology appointment

In Wales, more than 600,000 people are waiting for surgery.

Since Geraldine’s breast cancer diagnosis she has had two operations and a course of radiotherapy and now faces five years on the drug tamoxifen.

While the Government has pledged a £7billion injection into the NHS, with 5,600 doctors and 10,800 nurses recruited since last March, leaked figures reveal that fixing NHS waiting times could cost £40billion.

Meanwhile the waiting list has risen by 425,000 in just two months.

Geraldine, who works in stress management, says: “I don’t feel at all bitter or hard done by, though.

“This year has been tough for the NHS and I’ve been looked after superbly, but it’s scary to think about all the people who haven’t had routine mammograms, smears or other checks.”

1.5m - Number of ops cancelled or postponed in 2020

Nick, who is a public speaker, also has sympathy for NHS staff, many of whom have been on the brink of burnout and faced mental health problems due to the workload since the pandemic began.

When he began to feel suicidal again, he called NHS 111 and told the handler he wanted to take his own life.

He says: “Despite a paramedic visiting me and taking me to A&E, I left nine hours later without having seen a mental health professional. I’m on high-dose morphine because I have seven prolapsed discs in my spine but my doses were halved after my mental health breakdown with no explanation given.

“I haven’t seen my spinal specialist for over 12 months and I’m still waiting for a mental health assessment.

Eden, three, developed a rash
Eden, three, developed a rash

“I don’t blame the individuals. Every doctor and nurse is doing what they can but the Government needs to fund the NHS so the backlog can be cleared.

“People will have died of cancer while their treatment has been delayed but there’ll have been many who have taken their own lives because they couldn’t access mental health support in lockdown.”

In the last year, the health service has faced unprecedented pressures while tackling the pandemic. While Covid patients are still being treated, the NHS is having to start the next challenge — catching up with the backlog of patients.And as all Brits have eyes on the road map out of lockdown and Freedom Day, there are calls for a coherent plan, more money and staff to give the NHS a fighting chance at coping with the collateral damage.

An NHS spokesperson said: “While some people had concerns with coming forward for care, operations and other routine care are ahead of ambitions set out in April, with mental health and cancer services already back at pre-pandemic levels.

“The NHS is supporting hospitals with an extra £1billion to restore care to usual levels and our message remains — please help us to help you by coming forward and getting the care you may need.”


ONCOLOGY professor Pat Price, from Imperial College London, and co- founder of the #CatchUpWithCancer campaign to boost cancer diagnostics and treatment, says: “Delays across the board are the biggest catastrophe to hit the NHS ever, and the delays to cancer patients are an unmitigated disaster.

“Thousands of cancer patients are likely to die unnecessarily. What makes me cry with frustration is that it does not have to be this way.

"If the Government faces up to the true scale of the crisis and stops hiding behind press statements that imply ‘It’s not that bad’, the cancer backlog can be tackled.

"But we need serious investment and a proper national plan now.

“Delays to any treatment are regrettable. But cancer delays cost lives. Every four-week delay means survival drops ten per cent.

"Frontline staff are telling me they’re seeing record numbers of cancers that have been missed or treated late and are now terminal. Despite what the Government says, most hospitals are not working at 100 per cent capacity.

"Social distancing constraints alone make that virtually impossible. They can operate at around 80 per cent capacity.

“Even if they were at 100 per cent, that wouldn’t be enough to tackle the backlog because the system was so badly disrupted for months.
“Instead, we need a ‘super boost’ of cancer services to something like 120 per cent for a long period. There must be more funding into the NHS ring-fenced for catching up with cancer.

“Radiotherapy can substitute for surgery, but half of trusts are using machines past their ten-year recommended life.

“More shockingly, even advanced machines are often not used to their full capability due to perverse internal tariffs that mean using them would lose money for the Trust.

"The NHS needs money, people and equipment, because only with proper investment from the Government can we start to catch up.”

Kym Marsh breaks down in tears and begs dad 'don't leave me' after he's diagnosed with incurable prostate cancer

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