A MAN has accused a health trust of incompetence after he was forced to travel all the way to an East London hospital, only to be told his appointment had been cancelled.

David Johnson, 45, had been waiting for months to see a consultant about getting a gastric band fitted.

When he arrived at Homerton Hospital, in Hackney, which specialises in the radical weight-reduction treatment, he was told to go home.

The fiasco may even mean warehouse manager Mr Johnson, of Rectory Road, Pitsea, will miss out on the operation altogether, because NHS funding is being cut.

He said: “It’s been a complete waste of time and money!

“The nurses there just said to me, ‘your primary care trust should have told you ages ago your appointment was cancelled’.

“I spent petrol money getting to and from the hospital, paid £5 to park and took the day off work, so I lost a day’s pay.

“It was all for nothing, because the trust was too incompetent to phone to tell me my appointment had been cancelled for no reason.”

Mr Johnson had been told he needed the gastric banding operation to help him lose weight.

However, new spending cuts to health services in Basildon and Thurrock mean the cash-strapped trust is currently unable to tell him if he still qualifies for the treatment.

Tom Abell, acting director of commissioning and service integration for the primary care trust, said: “NHS South West Essex has introduced new criteria for eligibility for bariatric surgery.

“We will be performing a review of the options available for residents in relation to intensive obesity management.

“We are in the process of telephoning and writing to every patient affected by the change in criteria, explaining the reasons for the decision.

“I would like to sincerely apologise for the inconvenience caused to Mr Johnson and will be happy to speak to him personally.”

Mr Abell added: “We very much regret having to make these changes to eligibility criteria, but NHS South West Essex is facing extreme financial difficulty and needs to save more than £50million by the end of the financial year.”