THE family of a man suffering from cancer say they are facing a race against time after his operation as cancelled at Worcestershire Royal Hospital.

Tony Teale, 63,was diagnosed with oral cancer in November last year and was due to have an operation on January 21. However the operation was rescheduled. The rescheduled operation was due to happen on January 28 but, according to his daughter Gemma, the family received a phone call at 4pm on January 25 to say this operation was cancelled.

She said: “We were told the operation was cancelled as the Worcestershire Royal Trust board stated they would not allow the surgeons to do the operation.

“We have learnt that there are no operations taking place here for anyone with head or neck cancers, which is shocking and playing with peoples lives.

“The next option is to refer to Gloucester and Cheltenham, in the hope they accept his case. If not, then it doesn’t look like he will have an operation and won’t receive the treatment he needs.”

However, the trust stressed less than one patient a month required this specialist treatment and it was looking to sort Mr Teale's situation as soon as possible.

Dr Suneil Kapadia, chief medical officer of Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust, said:“We’ve identified a very small number of patients requiring extremely complex reconstructive surgery for their head or neck, who we believe should receive that surgery in a specialist centre which is able to offer not just the surgery but the round the clock on-site support needed in the event of any complications after surgery.

“The number of Worcestershire patients requiring this kind of surgery is very small - on average less than one a month - and we are in discussion with several neighbouring specialist Trusts to make sure that all those patients have access to the surgery they need.

“The majority of reconstructive operations of this kind will still be carried out in Worcestershire and we will continue to provide a comprehensive diagnosis and treatment service for local people with head and neck cancer.”

“We apologise to Mr Teale for the delay in his surgery, and would like to reassure him that we are doing everything we can to ensure he receives the most appropriate treatment for his condition as soon as possible.”

Mr Teale is from Hereford.