Couple lodge complaint over cancelled op

A FAMILY today told how they were close to breaking point after a vital operation was put on hold three times.

A FAMILY today told how they were close to breaking point after a vital operation was put on hold three times.

Gordon and Gillian Harris, who care for their two adult disabled sons and Mrs Harris's severely disabled brother Tony Pople, told how Ipswich Hospital postponed a vital operation, causing the family distress and anxiety.

The operation, to remove a large hernia from Tony Pople's face, was due to take place on March 22 and the couple, of Edinburgh Gardens, Claydon, had arranged transport and the necessary provisions for Mr Pople who lives with a severe mental and physical disability.

But the day before the operation was set to take place the hospital called to postpone it.

This was a huge blow to the family and Mr Harris has said he was close to breaking point when he realised he would have to re-organise the difficult provisions necessary to get Mr Pople to the hospital.

Mr Pople, who lives with a genetic condition known as fragile X, needs 24 hour care and hospital visits are always difficult.

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Mr Harris said: “You would not believe what we have to go through to get him to the hospital, a special bus has to be booked and we have to sort out our two boys who go to Genesis Orwell Mencap five days a week.”

And this was not the end of the family's trouble, as the surgery was delayed twice more.

But this was later changed yet again by the hospital and eventually the appointment was arranged for Monday, March 26.

Mr Harris, 63, said: “My brother-in-law had a massive hernia the size of a man's fist which had been there for at least six-and-a-half months.

“It was a terrifying situation, he couldn't stand up right because of it and at times he had been feeling sick as well.

“I'm not a doctor but I was looking at him and just praying to God it was going to get done.”

Mr and Mrs Harris, 61, have had years of hardship caring for three family members who suffer from severe learning difficulties and now they say they are “desperate” and “exhausted”.

Mr Harris said: “At the end of the line there is nobody there to help.”

As well as caring for their two sons who also have severe learning difficulties, Richard, 35 and Steven 38, Mr Harris is also recovering from major heart surgery.

A spokeswoman for Ipswich Hospital today apologised to Mr and Mrs Harris and said: “One of our difficulties is that we try to treat everyone as individuals. But sometimes we don't live up to our own high standards.”

She added: “We are sorry for what has happened, clearly mistakes have been made and we will carefully investigate and let Mr Pople and his family know in person what happened and why.”

The operation was carried out on March 26 and the family have now made an official complaint.

Have you faced a similar situation? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail

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