DELAYS caused by changes to the health service have left one Hereford man feeling embarrassed and hungry.

Ashley Baker has been waiting for more than a year for jaw surgery despite being willing to travel anywhere at any time for the treatment.

The 26-year-old was first referred to the orthodontist at Hereford County Hospital due to an open bite in the summer of 2013 and decided in October that year he would have braces and surgery due to the problems the condition caused.

He was told surgery would be 12 months later and, in June 2014, a referral letter was sent to a surgeon at Worcester Royal Hospital.

Mr Baker was told to wait for an appointment – and he is still waiting.

The finance and accounts worker said: “I have put my life on hold in order to be as flexible as possible and to prevent any further delays. I have booked no holidays or planned events.

“The braces rub and dig every day. I find it a shame that I have to make a scene to be heard.

“My jaws have such an open bite that I can’t bite through anything with my front teeth – I can actually get a pencil in with my jaws shut.

“So eating basic things like sandwiches, pizzas is difficult.

“I have lost quite a bit of weight because eating is so uncomfortable and embarrassing.”

Fiona Gurney, from Wye Valley NHS Trust, apologised on behalf of her employers for the delay.

She said: “Unfortunately, Ashley’s surgery has been delayed due to changes being made to the service provided for these patients at Wye Valley NHS Trust.

“While these complex changes are underway, Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust is supporting the Trust to provide alternative arrangements.

“We can now confirm that these joint temporary arrangements are in place and Ashley has been contacted and offered an appointment date where his planned surgery will be discussed and a date agreed.

“We do understand Ashley has been waiting for surgery and we apologise for this delay. During this period we have continued to provide dental treatment for Ashley, and can assure him that as a trust we have been doing everything to ensure surgery takes place as soon as possible.”

Meanwhile, Graham James, divisional medical director for surgery with Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust, said: “We were asked to undertake this surgery for Wye Valley NHS Trust’s existing patients while changes were being made to their service.

“We have remained in constant communication with the Hereford team and are pleased to have now finalised the arrangements to treat these patients.

“We have now contacted Mr Baker to confirm the date of his appointment to progress his treatment.”