Former nurse says pain made her feel like she couldn’t go on

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Hospital ward

Record numbers of patients await NHS care.

Healthwatch England has warned that many people on the waiting list have physical and mental challenges.

Here, some patients describe the human cost of waiting for care.

Sybil williams
Sybil Williams said she was in constant pain while waiting for treatment (Document / PA)

Former nurse Sybil Williams, 86, of Minehead in Somerset, said she “couldn’t go on anymore” and felt suicidal as she waited 17 months for her hip replacement.

Ms Williams had a lower leg amputation in 2008 and was awaiting hip replacement surgery on her “good” leg when the pandemic struck.

She was transferred to hospital in October 2019, but the operation was delayed.

Ms Williams said she was not told when she would have her treatment or received support while she waited in pain.

“As I waited for my operation, I frequently called both the admissions department and the surgeon’s secretary to check on the progress – to remind me that I was in pain,” she said.

“The wait time was appalling. I was in constant pain and sometimes thought I couldn’t go on. I felt suicidal in December 2020. ”

Sybil williams
Former nurse Sybil Williams said the wait time was appalling (Document / PA)

Ms Williams added, “Due to my amputated leg, I use mobility aids to move around, but I developed a shoulder injury that was so painful I couldn’t move.

“I had lost much of my independence and had to turn to pain relievers for pain relief while waiting for surgery.

“When the day finally came, I felt extremely well taken care of by the NHS. The operation also went very well. I have now regained my independence and my zest for life. You wouldn’t even know there was something wrong with that hip.

Father of four Toby Salt, 42, said he felt “abandoned” after waiting more than 18 months for help for his arthritis.

Toby's salt
Sculptor Toby Salt said woodcarving “gets unbearable at times” (Document / PA)

Mr Salt, a West Sussex sculptor, was referred to a rheumatologist in March last year after developing severe pain in several joints, including the elbow and hips.

Mr. Salt has yet to receive an update as to when he will see a consultant.

“I am considering going private because I can no longer live in pain,” he said.

“Living in pain has affected all aspects of my life.

“I feel mentally and physically exhausted – I can barely walk and take my kids to school because the pain is always worse in the morning.

“I am a sculptor, so woodcarving sometimes becomes unbearable.

“I have a backlog of orders that I cannot fulfill due to the pain this disease is causing me right now.

“As I have not been medically taken care of and do not know the severity of the disease, I fear that my business is in danger.

“I feel completely abandoned. I would like to ask the government how they expect me to pay extra taxes when I cannot access the simplest of care.

“And finally I would invite them to think how heartbreaking it is for me when my six year old daughter asks me why I can’t do what other dads can do when I know full well I could do so much more with the right medications and the right support.

Stephen Wischhusen, 74, a councilor in Lewes, East Sussex, learned in June that he needed urgent surgery to remove a stone from his right kidney.

He was preparing for surgery in mid-October when he received a letter telling him his procedure would now take place next year.

He said: “I have been told that for security reasons the operation should be carried out no later than October of this year.

“Then I was told it wouldn’t be until next year.

“I phoned the hospital trust and was told that due to the shortage of x-rays people like me have to wait longer for the procedure as they currently only perform one ureteroscopy by. week.

“Since the dismissal, I have lived in uncertainty. At no time was I told when my surgery was due or given a contact number to call if I needed assistance.

“Given my medical history, I am very worried about my health and the implications that delayed treatment may have.

“I feel like I haven’t been taken seriously by the NHS. I lived in limbo, which was very overwhelming and stressful – and totally unnecessary.

“There are lessons to be learned for health services, but more importantly, we need adequate funding to deal with the severe shortage of medical specialists in this country. “


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