Geoffrey (92) had to stop essential heart pills days before cancer op ... it was cancelled at the last minute
A great-grandfather's operation to remove cancerous polyps from his bladder was cancelled as he waited by his hospital bedside.
The 92-year-old, who had a heart attack in November, was booked in for the procedure on Monday, but was sent home with no firm date to come back.
To make matters worse, Portrush man Geoffrey Bainbridge had stopped taking lifesaving heart medication for three full days in preparation for the procedure.
His daughter Valerie said she and the rest of the family were furious that her father's risk of a heart attack had been raised so needlessly.
"Daddy has been treated very badly," said Valerie (65). "We understand the health service is under pressure and operations get put back.
"But the way this happened was really appalling. His health has been put at risk by advising him to come off essential drugs, which help prevent a heart attack, for a procedure that was cancelled seemingly at the drop of a hat."
Even after staff at Altnagelvin Hospital in Londonderry broke the news that his surgery had been cancelled, Mr Bainbridge was forced to wait three hours for medication to see him through the night.
The pensioner waited by the phone most of Monday for a call to let him know a bed was available.
When the call came at 2pm, the retired RAF officer travelled across the north west with his daughter Donna Kernan to have the polyps removed.
"I was with our mother Peggy, who is 91 and housebound, so Donna had to put her two-year-old into childcare to take Daddy to the hospital," said Valerie.
"They arrived about 3.30pm. Daddy unpacked his suitcase into the locker and they were signing the admission papers when someone arrived to tell them the operation was off.
"Of course, they were both very disappointed. After the build-up and, especially with Daddy coming off the medication for three days, it was very bad news."
But it was the three-hour wait at the hospital for a night's worth of the lifesaving drug Ticagrelor that made things even more stressful.
"I understand things take time," said Valerie. "But three hours for a couple of tablets - a couple of tablets which are vital to keep my father well - was excessive. And, of course, waiting around like that is very difficult for a 92-year-old man who isn't in top health."
Prolonging the agony further is the fact no firm date has been given for when the procedure will go ahead, although there was a suggestion it would happen by this Friday.
"That's of no help at all," said Valerie, who lives in Belfast. "Without a solid date we don't know when Daddy needs to come off his medication. As far as we know, staying on the drugs too long creates a risk, too, because they are blood thinners and if he doesn't clear his system of them in enough time there's the potential for bleeding.
"We want to get it right on that end of things, but we don't want to keep him off the drugs for the obvious reason that without the medication he's at a greater risk of a heart attack.
"All this stress and uncertainty is very difficult, and my father, at the age of 92, should not have to go through all this."
The family are also caring for mum Peggy, who has been housebound for a year. Valerie added: "All this with Daddy is a lot of extra pressure. We're not just concerned about him. People make a lot of preparations to go to hospital so they shouldn't be dropped last minute."
A Western Trust said it did not comment on the individual treatment and care of its patients or clients, but added: "On occasions procedures are postponed for a variety of reasons and this is regrettable.
"The trust apologises sincerely for the inconvenience caused in relation to the cancellation of any patient's operation and regrets the emotional upset caused.
"When cancellations happen, staff work hard to reschedule appointments for those affected as soon as possible."