AN EIGHT-YEAR-OLD girl has been left "in horrific pain" after a planned operation to remove her tonsils was cancelled amid a shortage of sterile surgical equipment.

Benedetta Jowers, from Erskine, is among around 700 patients who have seen their operations cancelled across NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde in the past two weeks after the region's central decontamination unit was temporarily closed in the wake of a critical report by inspectors.

Read more: Operations cancelled after sterilisation unit fails safety inspection

The health board confirmed that all scheduled tonsillectomies in the region have been cancelled. Other elective procedures such as hip or knee replacements have also been hit, as have a some urgent cancer surgeries.

Benedetta's mother, Jean, said her daughter was "totally devastated" after being told yesterday morning that her operation at the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital in Glasgow would not go ahead today [Wed].


Known to her friends and family as Detta, the Bargarran Primary School pupil has been on the waiting list for a tonsillectomy since February this year - but now her mother fears she will have to wait until February or even March next year for a new appointment.

Mrs Jowers, a primary school teacher, said: "Detta spent last New Year in and out of A&E because of the severity of her tonsillitis, she's been on the waiting list since February, we finally got a date for tomorrow and now they've cancelled, and they have cancelled every tonsillectomy for the last two weeks because they've got no equipment.

"They texted me to say it can't ahead. I feel absolutely gutted for her. She's got a big good luck unicorn balloon, the bag is packed ready to go, and now we're back in limbo.

"They say it'll be January or February before we can get another appointment, but there will be two weeks' worth of other children who have also had their operations cancelled so I worry that it will easily end up being February or March now before she goes in."

Read more: Operations cancelled in row over 'dirty instruments' from decontamination unit

Detta, who will be nine on Monday, has missed around 70% of school as a result of painful complications caused by her tonsillitis.

Whenever she suffers a flare-up of tonsillitis, it triggers the lymph glands in her stomach to also swell up causing a condition called mesenteric adenitis.

This causes severe abdominal pains which are often mistaken for appendicitis.

Mrs Jowers said her daughter has gone through around 12 to 13 rounds of antibiotics in the past year alone in a bid to keep the tonsillitis at bay.

The health board previously offered Detta a tonsillectomy four weeks ago when a slot became available unexpectedly due another patient's cancellation.

Read more: Children facing record waits for ENT consultations

However, at the time the schoolgirl was suffering a bout of tonsillitis and was on antibiotics which meant doctors were unable to proceed, and she was booked in for November 28 instead.

The latest blow comes after Detta has spent years struggling with the condition, which is characterised by a fever, sore throat and trouble swallowing.

Although tonsil removal used to be fairly common among children, the NHS has cut back amid controversy that the procedure was ineffective in less severe cases.

Mrs Bowers said she and her husband, Colin, a British Airways engineer, had finally had enough when they asked Detta's GP in 2017 to refer her to an Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) consultant.

Mrs Jowers said: "You have to have eight or nine episodes within a 12-month period before they will consider taking them out. We've been battling with it for years but she just didn't quite meet the threshold previously, so it's been years of horrific pain and her attendance at school is shocking.

"I'm a teacher and luckily I've been able to keep her going. Now we're looking at another Christmas and New Year where she's still going to be in pain."

The Cowlairs Decontamination Unit in Glasgow was shut down in mid-November after inspectors raised safety concerns about the fabric of the building.

The unit sterilises surgical equipment for hospitals across the entire Greater Glasgow and Clyde region.

It re-opened on a phased basis yesterday, but the backlog of tools still needing cleaned is having a knock-on effect on operations.

The health board said it is arranging additional theatre capacity to increase the number of planned surgeries which can take place. 

In a statement, it said: "As a result of work at the Cowlairs Decontamination Unit being temporarily suspended, a number of planned operations across all of our hospitals, including the Royal Hospital for Children, had to be postponed.

"We have issued a number of updates to highlight these postponements and developments at the unit.

"Whilst we have been able to continue to decontaminate instruments over the past few days, we have had to restrict our programme of planned surgery to enable us to prioritise emergency, trauma and urgent cases.

"The unit has now re-opened on a phased basis and work is ongoing to bring the unit back into full production."

The decontamination unit was at the centre of a previous controversy in 2013 after it emerged that hundreds of operations were being cancelled because surgical equipment was being returned to hospitals in a dirty or damaged condition.