A FORMER NHS worker with suspected cancer has spoken of her anger after urgent operations were cancelled twice in seven months due to coronavirus.

May Kean, who is disabled and uses and wheelchair, was originally referred for surgery at the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital in Glasgow on April 1 amid fears that she was showing symptoms of uterine cancer.

A procedure to remove a polyp and take a tissue sample from her womb for biopsy was called off after lockdown and she was eventually scheduled to undergo the operation instead at Glasgow Royal Infirmary on October 14.

However, she was contacted on October 9 and told that "due to Covid" her surgery was being cancelled.

READ MORE: Operations cancelled in 'miscommunication' blunder, says health board

Mrs Kean, a former maternity unit nursery nurse, is still waiting for a new appointment.

The 60-year-old, from Glasgow, said she is frustrated by public health messaging that insists the NHS is "open for business".

She said: “That makes me so angry. It's the very fact that they’re encouraging people to use the NHS because ‘everything is operating as normal for serious conditions’, but it’s clearly not.

"Why are announcements being made by the First Minister and everyone else that ‘if you’ve got suspected cancer please do not hesitate to contact your doctor’, when I'm no further forward?"

Mrs Kean was urged to chase up the procedure by a radiographer in August, when she was back in hospital to undergo an abdominal ultrasound to check on a previous hernia repair.

"The man who was doing the scan said 'are you having gynae problems?'," said Mrs Kean.

"I said yes and explained that I was due to have this procedure but it had been delayed.

"I asked if he'd seen something and he said 'yes' and told me to phone them as soon as I got home that day."

It transpired that Mrs Kean had been accidentally included among the day case procedures whose appointments had been erased from the system.

She was admitted to the QEUH on August 31 to have the polyp removed and tissue biopsied.

READ MORE: Over 100,000 operations postponed on NHS Scotland due to pandemic

However, the procedure had to be abandoned after the surgeon struggled to access her cervix.

Mrs Kean suffers from cervical stenosis, meaning the passage into the womb is narrow or completely closed.

Mrs Kean said: "Before the operation, [the surgeon] came up to me in the ward and her first words to me were 'if I'd known you were a complex case I wouldn't have added you to my list, but you're here now so we might as well give it a try'," said Mrs Kean.

"She also added 'failure to complete procedure' to list of complications on the consent form.

"I have had tonnes of operations and that's the first time that has ever been added on to a consent form.

"I thought to myself 'she's decided she's going to fail before she's even tried'.

Mrs Kean was referred instead for an urgent MRI scan due to "suspicion of cancer" which showed signs that her womb is enlarged.

READ MORE: NHS physiotherapy rooms 'turned into storage space and meeting rooms' during Covid 

She was booked in again for an urgent biopsy and polyp removal procedure at Glasgow Royal Infirmary on October 14, only for this to be cancelled days before.

Mrs Kean said: "The doctor who called me said it was because of Covid. She said she had four patients booked in for same day – two cancer, including myself, and two non-cancers.

"She said the two non-cancers were classed as non-urgent but myself and the other cancer patient were both classed as urgent.

"Her secretary was supposed to phone me on Friday October 16 to reschedule but of course they didn't.

"I spoke to a manager in the gynaecology department on Monday who said all the procedures for this week are cancelled."

The Herald previously revealed that doctors at the GRI had been told by a senior manager to cancel all non-urgent elective surgery from October 6 "for at least two weeks, and no further patients booked beyond this" amid bed shortages and increasing Covid admissions.

The health board said this had been a "miscommunication" and insisted procedures were being cancelled on a case-by-case basis only.

Mrs Kean is still waiting for a date for her procedure.

She said: “I’m not a worrier usually but this is hanging over my head. I’m not sleeping. That’s when I think about it – when I’m lying awake and I’m making all the preparations in my head as if I have got it.

"Reading between the lines, the way the doctors are speaking they all think I have because the lining of my womb is very thick and that puts me in the 'likely to be cancer' category."

A spokesman for the health board said Mrs Kean's procedure was classed as investigative, not surgical.

He said: “Throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde’s gynaecology service has been able to maintain all surgical procedures for cancer.

“However, due to the increased workloads in relation to the virus Covid, in some cases, investigative procedures for symptoms that could be cancer, have had to be rearranged. Any decision taken regarding this is made based on clinical needs.

“We fully appreciate this can be distressing for patients, and while we can’t comment on individual cases, we would like to reassure this patient, this is being treated as a priority.”