"Four Years Waiting for Surgery and Still Waiting!"

About: Castle Hill Hospital / Trauma and orthopaedics Hull Royal Infirmary / Trauma and orthopaedics The East Riding Community Hospital / Trauma and orthopaedics

(as the patient),

In 2006 my orthopaedic surgeon recommended me for surgery to correct a progressive foot deformity utilizing an Ilizarov frame to ensure that the bones would heal straight. The PCT disagreed with this decision and funds were not released. They said to me that I could appeal their decision but despite making several requests they never sent me any details on how to go about it. In the end I just put something together and submitted it. Never did hear back from them!

I believe when the funds were not forthcoming it was suggested that amputation might provide an answer. I got as far as discussing the matter with the appropriate surgeon only for him to advise against amputation on the grounds that the cause of the deformity was still active and might attack the remaining stump above the ankle.

Knocked back to orthopaedics and I’m sure that any resemblance to a tennis ball was purely coincidental?

The next plan was to see a surgeon much experienced in the fitting of Ilizarov frames working at Sheffield General Hospital. He was happy to fit me with a frame, the following week if I’d like, but I’d have to attend the hospital for both the surgery and the aftercare. The idea of spending up to a year using public transport to get to Sheffield whilst wearing an Ilizarov frame really didn’t seem practical to me.

Knocked back from Sheffield to Hull!

Then I got a piece of good news last year, my orthopaedic surgeon informed me that the PCT had agreed to release the necessary funds. Hurrah! The next step was to team up with the surgeon who would fit the Ilizarov frame after the corrective surgery had been completed, but how difficult could that be?

So, in November I went in for a consultation and was told that I could expect the surgery in February. I had some x-rays done and photographs of the foot taken and waited for my next appointment in January.

I think January was not as good as November. After waiting over 2 hours past my appointment time I finally met with my surgeon. He explained that he felt that he needed to speak to some colleagues as my case was not straight-forward. This was a disappointment for me as it meant that the surgery had slipped to March, but it seemed to have occurred out of good intentions.

March came and there was no news. I spent a couple of days ringing the hospital, getting passed around different extensions, some in the same office, and finally discovered that I was supposed to have attended a clinic in February, it was suggested that my failure to do so might have had me taken off the waiting list, but then the person on the other end of the telephone realised that no one had sent me a letter! I was assured that a new appointment would be made as soon as possible.

In April I went along and once again waited over 2 hours to be almost the last patient to see the surgeon. The reception staff had dropped the shutters on their desk and gone home when the nurse called me in. I waited in a cubicle and about 10 minutes later the surgeon appeared. I felt he had nothing definite to say. The funding is still in place but he still wants a more experienced colleague from another Primary Care Trust to assist but I think bureaucracy seems to be getting in the way

I tried to pin him down, get him to commit to a date, but he wouldn’t. I asked if he could at least give me a prospective date, would it be before June perhaps? He asked if I was going somewhere, probably thinking that I had a holiday planned, but I told him that my employer was getting impatient; it had been 4 years since this whole thing started after all. He could only offer, “Maybe May, maybe June”!

Maybe never?

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