The loneliest I have ever felt in my life’: Labour MP Wes Streeting urges hospitals to end the ‘postcode lottery’ of visitation rules after revealing his own agony of going through kidney cancer treatment alone
- Wes Streeting has opened up about loneliness of facing cancer treatment alone
- The Shadow Health Secretary says it was ‘loneliest’ he has ‘ever felt’ in his life
- Ilford North MP was on his own throughout due to tough pandemic restrictions
Wes Streeting has revealed the agony of going through cancer treatment alone as he urged all hospitals to end the ‘postcode lottery’ that bans family members from visiting patients.
The Shadow Health Secretary says it was the ‘loneliest I have ever felt in my entire life’ and took a severe toll on his partner and parents, who were not allowed to see him because of Covid restrictions.
The Ilford North MP was admitted to hospital in March 2021 with pain from a kidney stone, before a scan revealed a malignant tumour on the same kidney.
No visitors: Wes Streeting in hospital during his treatment for kidney cancer. The Ilford North MP was admitted to hospital in March 2021 with pain from a kidney stone, before a scan revealed a malignant tumour on the same kidney
Two months later, the 38-year-old went into hospital in London for a day-long biopsy, followed by three days of cancer treatment.
He was on his own throughout because of tough pandemic restrictions.
Mr Streeting, who has been cancer-free as a result of the treatment, said: ‘I have never felt so lonely in my life. It was a really awful experience being on my own.
‘It doesn’t matter that the NHS staff were brilliant and very supportive.
‘It’s no substitute for having your family and loved ones around you. In some ways, it was even worse for my family.’
His partner, Joe, was unable to reach him in the hours after his operation.
Mr Streeting said: ‘My brilliant surgeon phoned my partner straight away to reassure him the operation had been a success and that I would be able to speak to him.
Mr Streeting (pictured in 2021), who has been cancer-free as a result of the treatment, said: ‘I have never felt so lonely in my life. It was a really awful experience being on my own’
‘But I’d been put on a different ward than they’d expected, and I didn’t get my mobile phone back for hours, so Joe spent hours on the phone, being given the runaround by different departments.
‘Although I was absolutely fine, Joe didn’t know that, so for him that was a very upsetting experience.’
Last month, The Mail on Sunday launched its campaign to end the trauma of lone patients after revealing nine NHS trusts were still imposing total bans on any visitors for some patients, while almost half of trusts flaunted NHS England’s guidance on minimum visitation requirements.
Mr Streeting said: ‘It’s my hope that hospitals will pull out all the stops so that family members can visit.
‘It is good for the patient, good for the families, and helps reduce the anxiety, stress and trauma people are under.’
He said family members can take the pressure off nurses in wards by fetching water for bed-bound patients or helping patients go to the loo, and expressed concern that restrictions on visits are still in place in hospitals across the UK ‘at this stage in the pandemic’.
Last month, The Mail on Sunday launched its campaign to end the trauma of lone patients after revealing nine NHS trusts were still imposing total bans on any visitors for some patients (stock photo used)
He added: ‘I really hope they get the support they need from Government to restore family visiting in a consistent way across the country, so we don’t see this postcode lottery any more.’
Mr Streeting called on the Government to ‘play its part to support hospitals and ensure they are fully and safely staffed’.
He added: ‘People will understand that, in the current climate, you can’t have a dozen family members crammed around a bed.
‘But for people’s husbands, wives, mums and dads, not to be able to visit is a real hardship.’