Like others, he said his GP surgery had “had a barbed wire fence around it” since March but he managed to speak to a locum who said he needed a chest X-ray.

“He said I’d get a letter from the hospital and that I just had to wait,” Mr Smart told the Telegraph.

“Pre-Covid, I could have taken a note straight to the outpatients department on the day and waited to be seen but post-Covid, this was obviously not the case.”

Mr Smart, from Coventry, waited. But after a couple of weeks, he called the surgery to find out what was going on.

“The receptionist checked the record and said that I had been referred but said I would just have to be patient,” he said.

Naturally anxious, Mr Smart even wrote a letter imploring them to speed things up, in the “naive belief” doctors were still working on the premises. 

Five weeks later, he finally had the scan at the Hospital of St Cross in Rugby.

“The strange thing was that the hospital was completely empty,” he said. “There was no sign of anything going on at all – no one ahead of me, no one behind me, the car park was empty.

“It took literally minutes, I walked in and walked out again.”

Mr Smart got a call from the GP the next day who said the radiographer had diagnosed a consolidated lung infection and that he would prescribe antibiotics.

He was surprised as he had shown no other signs of an infection but duly took the course of antibiotics and was told that a follow-up x-ray would be arranged for a week’s time to ensure they had worked.

In the event, that too was five weeks later. 

But Mr Smart, who had not been overly concerned since the first scan, was contacted by a GP who “rather bluntly” told him that in fact,  it looked like cancer.

He was referred for a CT scan, which was also suspicious and so was booked in for a PET scan a week or so later.

With the cancer diagnosis confirmed, he was advised to have surgery to remove the tumour from his left lung. The consultant told him it would be booked in for three or four weeks later.

“I was waiting for the surgery date to come through but it just didn’t materialise,” he said.

“By this point, I was obviously quite worried so I found the doctor’s secretary’s number and pestered her. Eventually, I got an appointment that was seven weeks later.”

Mr Smart had to isolate for two weeks ahead of the surgery and last week, as he was packing his bag on the day he was finally booked to go in, he got a call to say the operation had been postponed for three weeks.

“I was so angry,” he said. After piling on the pressure, that appointment was brought forward by a few days and is now scheduled for next week. Mr Smart can only pray that his condition has not worsened in the meantime. 

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