‘Strikes meant I had to take a £165 taxi to get to my heart operation’

Graham Benton, 48, scorns RMT union taking the ‘nuclear option’ and is still unsure how he will make the 100-mile return journey home

Options for those without cars, desperately needing to make long journeys, became bleak on Tuesday as a result of nationwide rail strikes Credit: Paul Marriott Photography

😴🤕🤢 A patient undergoing heart surgery could be left stranded almost 100 miles away from home after the operation due to the rail strikes.

😴🤕🤢 Graham Benton, 48, was forced to pay £165 for a taxi to take him from Portsmouth to London for the operation on Tuesday and now faces spending hundreds more to get home again.

😴🤕🤢 The IT sales manager was originally told on Friday his operation would be cancelled due to the strikes.

😴🤕🤢 Mr Benton, whose father and uncle both died aged 47 from heart attacks, said the hospital phoned him back the same day and said it had “jumped the gun” and reinstated his appointment.

😴🤕🤢 But as he does not own a car, and no trains were running between Portsmouth and London, he had no alternative except to pay for a taxi at 5:30am to make the appointment.

This week's nationwide rail strike left Graham Benton, a Portsmouth resident, with few travel options for reaching his surgical appointment in London

😴🤕🤢 Speaking to The Telegraph on Tuesday morning prior to his surgery, Mr Benton said he was fortunate he could afford to pay the £165 to get him there, but was unsure how he would be able to get home.

😴🤕🤢 He hopes to be discharged on Wednesday, but is concerned the trains will still be disrupted following the first strike day.

😴🤕🤢 “Obviously, I get that they’ve got the right to strike, [but] I think the five-day disruption is just excessive for the first industrial action,” he said.

😴🤕🤢 To strike for five days from the beginning was the “nuclear option”, he added.

😴🤕🤢 “Apart from this procedure it wouldn't have hurt me at all because I can work from home. But it'll impact people who rely on the trains and they're generally going to be the lower income, less mobile, older people,” he said.

😴🤕🤢 Mr Benton’s uncle in Cheshire has also had an MRI scan cancelled due to the strikes, he said.

😴🤕🤢 It took the sales manager almost three hours by taxi to get to the hospital. Taking a coach and staying in a hotel the night before would have been more costly, he said.

😴🤕🤢 The 48-year-old who has an irregular heart rhythm is undergoing ventricular ablation surgery, which is due to last between two and four hours.