Coronavirus: Cancer doctors 'having to decide who lives'

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James Byrom
Image caption,
James Byrom was told a few days before his "life-saving" surgery the operation had been cancelled

The daughter of a man whose "life-saving" brain cancer surgery was cancelled, said doctors were "having to make the decision about who lives and who dies" because of coronavirus.

James Byrom, 72, had been due to have an operation at Addenbrooke's Hospital in Cambridge on Monday.

The family said the decision to cancel was "devastating".

The hospital said it was trying to keep services running normally and was explaining options to patients.

My Byrom, who was diagnosed a month ago, said he was told surgery was the only option.

His consultant told him it was "crucial... and we need to get it done quickly", the retired civil engineer said.

Mr Byrom had been told about 90% of the cancer could be removed.

"He was confident about that and he said we might even get 100% out," Mr Byrom said.

It was to be "an absolutely life-saving operation", he said.

Image caption,
Mr Byrom's daughter Louise said the family was "absolutely devastated"

He was told the operation had been cancelled due to risks associated with coronavirus, and was instead offered radiotherapy, which his family said could give him a few more months.

"Three days before [the operation], to get a brutal telephone call telling you that you've now only got months to live - with no real reason - the family is just absolutely devastated," his daughter, Louise Byrom said.

"Doctors are having to make a decision about who lives and who dies, and if you're of a certain age, do the public realise if you've got cancer, you don't stand a chance?"

In a statement, Addenbrooke's Hospital's medical director Ashley Shaw said they were working "as hard as we can" to keep cancer services "running as normal".

However some procedures were being "delayed or delivered differently", he said.

The hospital was taking the time to "explain carefully... what options we can offer patients [and] how this will impact their outcomes".

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