My NHS: Dad’s ‘simple’ operation needed two more to fix

 

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As a girl, it is hard to imagine just how painful it must be to have an operation on your scrotum, let alone three in the space of two months. But that is what happened to my 64-year-old dad this summer after an initial operation to remove a hydrocele – a collection of fluid in a sac in the scrotum – was unsuccessful.

After the first operation, under general anaesthetic at University College Hospital (UCH) in London, he was discharged. He felt okay but woke to severe swelling, and spent the next four weeks in increasing discomfort.

When it got so bad he couldn’t walk, he was admitted back to UCH for a second operation. It became clear there had been complications during the initial surgery, and he had half a litre of fluid taken from a sac the size of a small bag of potatoes. After he was discharged he saw a district nurse every other day. But soon the area became infected, and after waking up in a cold sweat he crawled back to A&E for a third and final operation, eight weeks after he was first admitted.

With the exception of the first operation, my dad has been happy with the care he has received. But it’s hard to believe something couldn’t have been done to prevent him from having two further operations. He puts it down to the pressure to keep beds free.

“I was sent home late that day and they were in a rush,” he says. “If this is how bad it is for a tiny operation, you wonder how bad it is for a big operation.”

He also found there was poor communication between his GP, district nurse and the hospital, and could rarely see the same professional twice. “You don’t see the doctor who did the same operation and you are never seen on time. ”

After the complications with his first operation were addressed, my family was impressed by how well he was looked after. “For my third operation I was seen within half an hour by a surgeon and was operated on. It was done with minimum fuss and the greatest care. The nurses in the post-op ward were amazing and I was kept in for two nights,” he says. “We are so lucky to have such a phenomenal NHS. This was one poor operation under general anaesthetic, but the subsequent care was brilliant.”

He is now on the mend and has stopped making dad jokes about life being a ball-ache.

Daisy Wyatt is digital arts and entertainment reporter for 'The Independent'

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