A CANCER sufferer was sent home from hospital on the morning he was due to have two tumours removed -- because there was no intensive care bed for him.

Hospital bosses have apologised David Scaife, of Spring Street, Rishton, and blamed the busy winter period for the delay.

David, 61, was diagnosed with cancer of the oesophagus in July last year. After a series of tests he had two sessions of chemotherapy at The Christie Hospital, Manchester, in order to shrink the tumours and eliminate stray cancerous cells so that it could be safely removed surgically.

In December a scan was carried out and David was given a date for the operation. He was admitted to Blackburn Royal Infirmary on Thursday and stayed in overnight in anticipation of the surgery.

Ann, 58, a Hyndburn ward councillor for Eachill, was outraged when she received the call after surgery should have begun asking her to collect David.

She said: "This is a very big operation -- we are talking about cancer. We have been living with this since last July and this should have been the final thing he had to go through.

"We have spent many, many hours waiting during this process and I am sure many other people have done too but some people let it happen because they know they are up against a brick wall. I will not let this go. It needs to be said if something is going to be done about it.

"He has now been given another date which is supposed to be in two weeks but I am not even going in until he has had the operation because I am so angry.

"What was the point in him going through the chemotherapy? I know it stays in the body for some time but surely it will start to grow back again if this is delayed again."

The prognosis for David is not good with only 25 per cent of sufferers surviving more than five years.

He said: "I am gutted about the cancellation because I had got myself hyped up for the operation. But I am being positive about this and have read up on the subject so I know what to expect." The surgery to remove the two cancerous tumours would involve making incisions to David's stomach and side, moving his stomach out of the way and collapsing a lung to get to the tumours.

Once the tumours are removed, including healthy tissue on either side, his lung would have to be reinflated before the procedure is completed. The whole operation takes around five hours.

David, a driver with the transport department for Queens Park Hospital, said: "I had got myself psyched up and had even been for my shower and put on the gown for the operation. I was looking forward to getting it over with.

"Now I'll have to go through it all again. I certainly don't think they do it deliberately but they definitely need more staff and more beds. It is something you don't actually think about it until it happens to you."

John J Dell, acting chief executive for Blackburn, Hyndburn and Ribble Valley Health Care NHS Trust, apologised for the distress caused to Mr Scaife and his family because of the cancellation at short notice.

He said: "It was very important for Mr Scaife to have a bed available in the Intensive Care Unit following surgery to ensure his best post-operative recovery. The ICU was fully occupied but there were plans to transfer another patient who was fit enough to be moved.

"Unfortunately delays occurred finding an appropriate bed for this patient and this meant that Mr Scaife's surgery could not be carried out.

"This is a very busy time for the hospital and there are increasing demands on critical care facilities. Unfortunately cancellations do occur from time to time and when this happens we always endeavour to ensure an alternative date as soon as possible.

"However we understand the family's concerns and we would like to offer the Trust's apologies."

A new date has been scheduled for Friday, February 1, and David is making enquiries as to whether or not he will require further chemotherapy before then.

Blackburn Royal Infirmary currently has eight beds in the intensive care unit.

This has increased from five in the last 12 months in order to improve the hospital's critical care service.