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Last Updated: Monday, 21 February, 2005, 13:18 GMT
House remortgaged to fund therapy
A Bristol woman says she was forced to remortgage her house to finance treatment for a painful lymph condition which the NHS will not fund.

Celia Hanks, 59, developed lymphoedema after undergoing radiotherapy and surgery for breast cancer.

She says she had to restructure her mortgage to fund private treatment which has so far cost about 4,000.

A statement from the Bristol South and West Primary Care Trust (PCT) said it had to "prioritise" funding.

Swelling limbs

Lymphoedema occurs when the lymphatic system does not work properly and fluid builds up causing swelling, mainly in the arms and legs.

Mrs Hanks visits a therapist every six weeks to get the liquid drained and has to move the fluid around on a daily basis.

She said: "I feel as if I'm personally funding the NHS. I'm even more upset about the condition which is not being recognised enough.

"It would be a big expense for the NHS but I feel it could save money overall as treating it would stop people who had it coming into hospital's suffering with related infections."

But the PCT said: "There is a service for people affected by lymphoedema that started in 2004. We would recommend that any patient contact this service. They can be referred by a specialist nurse, health professional or even refer themselves.

"We recognise the distress people living with lymphoedema suffer, but we have to prioritise funding for services and we assess those by consulting with specialists."

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