"Can GPs refer a patient for a scan and consultation?"

About: Ashburton Surgery Torbay and South Devon NHS Foundation Trust

(as a service user),

In August 2020 I started having pain, pins and needles and a numb sensation in my right leg. Because I had heard that there was no 'hands on' NHS physiotherapy in my area due to coronavirus, I consulted a private physiotherapist. She assessed the situation as pressure on a nerve, possibly the sciatic nerve due to osteo arthritis  in my hip. This condition had already been diagnosed by an X ray in 2018 when I had had pain in my left hip. She gave me some exercises to do.

I had a couple more appointments without improvement and so consulted an osteopath privately. His opinion was the same... that the symptoms were due to inflammation around the hip joint/pressure on a nerve. I had 3 appointments with the osteopath and another one with the physiotherapist and both said that I needed a scan to diagnose the exact location of the problem. I was advised to go to my GP to ask for a referral for a specialist consultation and a scan.

The GP surgery is at Ashburton in Devon. My physio wrote a letter detailing my treatment and her recommendation that a scan was required to aid diagnosis. My GP refused to refer me, saying that I needed to have NHS physiotherapy and that only a NHS physiotherapist could refer me for specialist treatment and a scan. I was given a prescription for Amitriptyline, a stronger pain killer.

I self referred with the South Devon Health Trust and received a telephone consultation with an NHS physiotherapist. They diagnosed the problem as a back problem due to osteo arthritis... which they said could be easily solved by an exercise plan. I told them that I had been doing exercises for 3 months with a private physiotherapist, and forwarded them a copy of the email which the physio had written to the GP surgery.

I have another appointment with the NHS physio in two weeks time, but I am in a lot of pain, worried about the loss of sensation in my leg and really feel that a scan and a specialist consultation are needed now, rather than go through another 3 months of exercises which do not alleviate the problem.

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