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Manchester Evening News
Manchester Evening News
Helena Vesty

'I waited five months for cancer treatment only to be told it's cancelled due to IT crash'

A cancer patient who waited five months for an appointment arrived at the hospital to find it was cancelled after days of IT chaos. Duncan Berry said he was was told ‘it would not be safe for the consultant to see him’ as staff couldn't access his medical records.

The dad-of-two, whose mum died of cancer last June, has now been left with no idea how long it could be before he is seen again. He is wracked with 'anxiety on top of what he's already dealing with', fearing he could deteriorate as he is ‘added back onto the waiting list’ ‘with no contact advising how long this could be’.

NHS staff have said that thousands of patients are being affected by delays to care, caused by a major IT failure across four hospitals in Greater Manchester. The IT issues have caused chaos with electronic prescribing, viewing patients’ medical records, finding test results - as well forcing appointments and surgeries to be cancelled.

READ MORE: 'Concerned' medics have a plan to deal with Monkeypox if it spreads to Greater Manchester

Duncan was scheduled to go to Bury’s Fairfield General Hospital on May 23. But after he arrived, he was told the appointment would not be going ahead, claims Duncan.

“I attended my lead consultant appointment back in January and I was put on several other consultants waiting lists. The appointment on Monday was the first one after a five-month wait," the 55-year-old told the Manchester Evening News .

Have you been affected by the IT chaos? Call the M.E.N. newsdesk on 0161 211 2920 or email

“I went to Fairfield Hospital and was met by feverish staff. I brought the referral letter and the nurse said ‘let me speak to the consultant because you’re a new patient’.

“The staff member came back 10 minutes later, and her words were: ‘It would not be safe for the consultant to see you, our IT systems are down and have been for at least a week. We’re not allowed to see anybody because the consultant can’t access the records and it wouldn’t be safe to see them.’

"They just gave me my letter back and told me I could go home, and that they would send for me when they were ready."

Ambulances wait at Fairfield General Hospital (Adam Vaughan)

Now, the Ramsbottom patient fears that he will deteriorate as he waits for a rescheduled appointment, and says he has no idea when that may come.

“When someone tells you you’re on Cancer Pathway for treatment, you start wondering what does that mean? Now it’s the added stress of potentially being put at the back of the queue," continues Duncan.

"Does it mean I’m only going to see someone in 10 months? What's going to occur in that time? Have I got something treatable? How will this impact my family? What do I tell them?

“I find it strange that a member of staff admits these problems have been ongoing for days but doesn’t pick up the phone before I get to hospital."

Staff across four of the affected Greater Manchester's hospitals say they are struggling to 'access their patients' medical records, electronically prescribe medications and reliably see test results' . The concerns come as four hospitals have been hit by major IT failures lasting more than a week, after problems began on Wednesday, May 18 .

Concerned workers say the IT crash has 'affected every part' of Royal Oldham, Fairfield General , North Manchester General and Rochdale Infirmary . On May 24, the Royal Oldham, Fairfield and Rochdale declared critical incidents as staff continue to wrangle with the outages.

Accident and emergency at Fairfield General Hospital (ABNM Photography)

Dr Chris Brookes, Deputy CEO and Chief Medical Officer for the Northern Care Alliance NHS Trust, which operates Fairfield General, the Royal Oldham and Rochdale Infirmary, said: “Our Digital IT team and suppliers have made some positive progress overnight in diagnosing and resolving the IT problems currently affecting a number of our systems across Oldham, Bury, Rochdale and North Manchester General Hospital sites, however critical systems will only be rolled out after they have been tested and declared fit to use.

“We are still at critical incident status and using our business continuity plans and paper process to maintain essential services and patient care. This is having an operational impact on our services meaning slower and delayed services, and impact on patient flow in and out of our hospitals, patient safety is our priority.

Dr Chris Brookes, Chief Medical Officer and Deputy Chief Executive for the Northern Care Alliance NHS Group (NCA)

“Where a patient has their surgery cancelled it will be rebooked as soon as possible. I’d like to apologise to anyone affected, and their families, for the inconvenience, especially anyone who has had surgery cancelled at short notice. Patients who have a hospital appointment whether for planned surgery or as an outpatient should continue to attend unless they are contacted directly by the trust and told otherwise.

“Our Emergency Departments remain particularly busy at the moment. We ask that you carefully consider if you really need A&E and your condition is an emergency and life threatening. Please contact 111 or seek advice from your local pharmacy or GP.”

To get the latest email updates from the Manchester Evening News, click here .

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