Ongoing trouble getting treatment through NHS postcode lottery in Lincs

EDITOR – Service provided by the NHS Trust in Lincolnshire.

I am writing to you in support of the letter published in the Horncastle News by Mr Andy Jackson concerning the level of service provided by the NHS in Lincolnshire.

For a number of years I have suffered from lower back pain and associated pain in the legs.

This pain has been treated over the past three years both by the NHS and privately through physiotherapy, acupuncture and a chiropractor.

The pain, however, continues to worsen.

Last May I was referred by my GP to an orthopaedic consultant at Lincoln County Hospital.

Due to the backlog in spinal treatment, and to comply with government targets, I was eventually seen at the Lincoln BMI Hospital as an NHS patient.

The two consultants that I saw at the BMI are also both NHS consultants at the County Hospital.

After three consultations, an X-Ray and MRI Scan at the BMI I underwent a minor procedure to relieve the back pain that I suffer from.

At the time I felt quite guilty for the significant increase in cost to the tax payer for my treatment being provided at a private hospital rather than at Lincoln County Hospital.

The procedure provided significant relief to the pain that I suffer.

Consequently, the consultant wanted to repeat the procedure.

Unfortunately, the day prior to an appointment with the consultant I was told that my appointment had been cancelled by the United Lincolnshire Hospital Trust (UHLT) due to a policy change.

I was told that would be seen at the County Hospital in the near future.

After eight weeks of hearing nothing I wrote to the UHLT asking for any information about my treatment.

Between June and September I received a number of letters and e-mails from the UHLT explaining that the delay was due to a lack of money and a change in policy by the Primary Care Trust (PCT).

In September I eventually received a letter from the Primary Care Trust (PCT).

This letter quoted from advice given by NICE and a review of Spinal Service conducted by the British Orthopaedic Association.

I was advised that my case would be handed over to the Pain Service at the UHLT.

Recently, I received an appointment at a clinic at Louth Hospital run by a company called Care.

This company has apparently been contracted by the UHLC to help clear the backlog of patients waiting spinal treatment.

I attended the clinic at Louth and after half an hour felt that I had gone back a year.

It was apparently my fault that I did not have my X-Rays and MRI scan available for the doctor to view!

I was advised that it was unlikely that I would receive any more treatment but was offered some more physiotherapy.

I have requested another procedure as recommended by the consultant in May.

So now I am waiting for the next instalment in the saga!

I have included a lot of detail in my letter to illustrate the frustration that I feel.

I get the impression that bureaucracy now rules the NHS in Lincolnshire.

I have had appointments cancelled at short notice and been stonewalled by pen-pushers and policy at both the UHLT and the PCT.

To be told that ‘if an operation is only effective over a limited period it is not cost effective’ is of little comfort.

There is no doubt that there is an element of ‘postcode lottery’ as each PCT introduces random policies to try to reduce their financial shortfall.

The level of treatment available from the NHS should by equal throughout the country.

If the amount of bureaucracy I have seen is an indication of where the money is spent, that is where the savings should be made. The NHS is supposed to provide medical care for the population and not just be a place of employment for administrators and bureaucrats.

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