A CANCER sufferer says he was given a “death sentence” by the NHS and had to pay for private treatment to save his life after battling throat cancer.

Tony Baker, from Malvern, was told to expect the worse and he’d have to settle for palliative care after Worcestershire Royal Hospital sent him to Coventry for a crucial throat cancer assessment. The 68-year-old said Worcestershire Royal Hospital didn’t operate as a way to save money by not offering the necessary after care service.

However, the trust said University Hospitals, Coventry, was a specialist centre.

He said: “They [Worcester] sent me to a surgeon that wasn’t capable of doing the operation that was needed so he sent me home with a palliative care recommendation when they had a perfectly capable surgeon at Worcester.

“My argument is with the people running the Worcester trust. They have a very capable surgeon that could have done this operation for me and would have done but the trust won’t let him because they see it as a way to save funds by not offering the necessary after care service. Therefore, denying the surgeon the ability to work to his potential and sending people to Coventry where they are met by a less competent surgeon who is sending people home to die.”

After being told nothing could help him, Mr Baker paid for private treatment at London’s Royal Marsden, which is a cancer specialist hospital where he had previous surgery done.

Graham James, deputy chief medical officer and maxillofacial consultant, at the county trust, said: “Since October 2019 a small number of patients requiring complex head and neck reconstructive surgery have been referred to regional specialist centres where they are able to offer not just the surgical expertise but also the high level of on-site support needed in the event of any complications after surgery. We are unable to provide the appropriate level of post-operative support in Worcestershire for these patients with complex needs. However, most other head and neck cancer operations, treatments and diagnostic tests are carried out in Worcestershire by our local multidisciplinary team who provide full local support for our patients. When a patient is referred and accepted by another centre the head and neck team at that hospital are responsible for their care until they are transferred back to the care of our local team.”