Mother waiting for breast reconstruction surgery says delays are 'putting life on hold'

  • Granada Reports' Tasha Kacheri spoke to Michelle about her agonising wait for breast reconstruction surgery

A mum-of-two says she feels 'lost' and 'her life is being put on hold' as she waits for breast reconstruction surgery.

Michelle Turnock from the Wirral, had a mastectomy in 2020 at Clatterbridge Hospital, after being diagnosed with breast cancer the previous summer.

Despite then being referred to Whiston Hospital in 2022, for highly specialised reconstructive surgery, she is still waiting.

Michelle Turnock says the wait has really affected her mental health Credit: ITV News

"I don't recognise myself," Michelle said. "I'm a completely different person to what I was back then."

Michelle is not alone. There are estimated to be thousands of women across the country waiting for this surgery, which is complex and only performed by a small number of NHS hospitals.

The long wait has had a serious impact on Michelle's mental health and says she has been forced to rearrange holidays and plans with her family.

"I just don't know if I'm coming or going with it but for the sake of my kids I have to keep a happy brave face," she said.

Surgeon Rieka Taghizadeh, from Whiston Hospital performs these complex surgeries and says more funding is needed to get more women seen.

"This is very much a national issue and one that is almost a postcode lottery.

"The issue existed before the pandemic, where demand and supply didn't match so this really got worse after the pandemic where many Trusts ceased to do these specialist reconstructions.

"When they returned back to their activity a lot of them didn't have their lists given back to them.

"But what we've also had is a big rise in the number of breast cancers coming through - younger more aggressive cancers which require immediate reconstruction which then means ladies who've already had their breast cancer treated - because they're not active cancers -unfortunately they're waiting longer for these specialist procedures."

In a statement, the Department of Health and Social Care said: “No patient should have to wait this long.

"Unfortunately, far too many cancer patients are waiting far too long for treatment. We are determined to change that.

"It is the mission of this government to get the NHS back on its feet, so it is there for all of us when we need it, once again.

“As a first step to cut waiting lists, we will provide an extra 40,000 operations, scans and appointments a week, with extra clinics at evenings and weekends."

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