Heart operation man is told hospitals have run out of room

Former journalist faces wait as surgery is cancelled due to Covid

Thursday, 21st January 2021 — By Tom Foot


A DECISION to stop surgery for non-Covid patients is putting lives at risk, according to the partner of an 80-year-old man whose long-awaited heart operation was cancelled this week.

Former Reuters journalist David Wright, who lives in Parliament Hill, was expecting to have a heart valve replaced this month at Barts Hospital following a referral from the Royal Free.

He had been waiting for the potentially life-saving procedure for more than a year but has now been told there is no theatre space available. With his condition deteriorating, no return date has been booked.

Mr Wright’s partner, Danica Katich, said: “What is really annoying is to hear politicians like [health secretary] Matt Hancock coming forward and saying ‘non-Covid patients come on in, you will be seen’ – when we know it is not true. They are going on television and telling lies.

“His condition gets worse by the day. If you are a cardiologist, you know the sooner you treat it the better the outcome. We know it is urgent.”

David Wright with grandchildren Rafa and Manu

She added: “The theatres are obviously needed for Covid patients, and that is important. But there must be space for those who do not have Covid. They should have one hospital with an ICU reserved for non-Covid patients. They need to have a better plan.”


In Camden, thousands of hospital appointments were suspended last year because hospital beds and theatres were taken up by Covid patients. Health chiefs were starting to get on top of the “backlog” when the second wave struck.

The progression of Camden residents’ illnesses due to delayed operations is not yet fully understood.

Barts said this week it is cancelling all cancer patient surgery on top of other operations, including heart surgery, because of the Covid patient surge.

Mr Wright has been a fierce defender of the NHS all his life. His daughter Amaranta added: “He has paid his taxes all his life. “For him, it is very difficult, because he has always been such a believer in the NHS. “We feel he is one of those who is falling through the cracks.”

A statement from the British Heart Foundation associate medical director consultant cardiologist, Dr Sonya Babu-Narayan, said: “Surgery and other invasive procedures to treat heart disease are not luxuries that people can easily go without – delaying them can cost lives. “The moment the current crisis abates, we need to urgently address the backlog of people waiting for treatment before it becomes too late for some.”

The North Central London NHS Trust was approached for a ­comment but had not responded as the New Journal went to press last night (Wednesday).


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