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Operation delay boy now back at home

PUBLISHED: 06:11 07 October 2001 | UPDATED: 10:37 03 March 2010

A FIVE-year-old boy whose operation was postponed leaving him to face his first day back at school without vital corrective surgery has now had his treatment.

A FIVE-year-old boy whose operation was postponed leaving him to face his first day back at school without vital corrective surgery has now had his treatment.

Alex Carpenter is recovering at home after an operation at Ipswich Hospital to help correct a cleft lip.

His mother, Viv, had earlier hit out at the NHS in The Evening Star as two days before the surgery she received a short letter telling her the treatment would be put back six weeks.

Now after Alex's surgery, Viv, of Downside Close in Ipswich, said: "Alex was quite poorly afterwards but is recovering well at home.

"I felt awful because I spoke to other mums at the hospital and it wasn't just Alex's surgery that was cancelled that day. Other parents would have felt the same as me.

She spoke to another mum who told her that the reason for the cancellation was flooding.

"We weren't told that. I felt that if the staff communicated with each other we wouldn't have half the problems with the NHS.

"I was upset because I had spent all that time preparing Alex for the operation when it was postponed. There was no explanation at all."

But despite the previous difficulties Viv praised staff on Boxford Ward for Alex's treatment. "It was unbelievable," she said,

"Alex was certainly made to feel comfortable. The staff couldn't have been more helpful.

"Not just with Alex, but also with my five-month-old baby, Molly, as well. One of the nurses took her for a walk down the corridor." The nurses also comforted Viv who was in tears worrying about Alex.

Viv's only complaint was that staff didn't cater for Alex's dietary needs. "I was a bit surprised in a hospital that because there would be other children like Alex with special dietary needs," she said. "I think it is something that they should perhaps look at."

In hospital Alex drew pictures of the nurses to make him feel at home. Afterwards, as a welcome home present Alex was given a special toy medical bear.

Jan Rowsell, Ipswich Hospital spokeswoman, said there had been flooding at the hospital but those affected by that had their operations cancelled on the day, so this wouldn't have affected Alex's surgery – as his was cancelled two days beforehand.

She said of the cancellation: "We are a really busy hospital and the surgeons who carry out plastic surgery are visiting consultants from Norwich as this is our regional centre.

"Everything is done to make visits, especially children's visits to the hospital easier and we regret the Carpenters had such a difficult time."

Referring to Alex's special dietary needs, she said: "We have a very specialist nutrition and dietary department at the trust and the dieticians work very hard to make sure that the dietary needs of all our patients are catered for.

"We are obviously sorry if Alex's needs have already apparently not been catered for.

"We need to work in partnership with patients and their families and would urge people to let us know when they are in hospital of any special dietary needs because immediate action will be taken to meet those needs. We cater for all sorts of people with all sorts of dietary needs."

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