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Last Updated: Wednesday, 23 June, 2004, 07:29 GMT 08:29 UK
Hip patient's nine-year wait
Pauline Purdey
A private operation would have cost Mrs Purdey around 12,500
A 52-year-old arthritis patient has told BBC Wales she is still waiting for a hip replacement operation after nine-and-a-half years.

Pauline Purdey, from Bargoed, south Wales, says she is virtually housebound and is in severe pain.

She said that she was told in 1995 that she had arthritis and needed a new hip - but because she was in her forties, she was too young.

The Welsh Assembly Government has said that orthopaedic services in Wales are improving, and an independent expert has said that Mrs Purdey's difficulties are partly because replacement hips have a limited lifespan and she was relatively young.

Mrs Purdey has investigated a private operation, but said it would have been out of the question, costing around 12,500.

So she says she is still taking anti- inflammatory drugs, and is forced to sleep on the sofa because she is too unstable to get up the stairs.

"I do feel extremely hard done by in some ways," she said.

"My big problem is falling - I have fallen before and ended up in hospital, so I tend not to go up the stairs."

Mrs Purdey said she had to give up her job as an area sales adviser four years ago because she could not drive.

She has been under the care of the Royal Gwent Hospital in Newport since 2001.

She was put on a waiting list in September 2003, and doctors say they hope she will get an operation by September 2004.

Plaid Cymru health spokesman Rhodri Glyn Thomas has raised Pauline's case in the Welsh assembly.

He says her situation is an unacceptable example of the problems which remain in the Welsh NHS.

A Welsh Assembly Government spokesman said: "There is a great amount of work currently underway to improve orthopaedic services across Wales."

She added that waiting times will be further reduced for patients in Mrs Purdey's area, with major developments planned for St Woolos Hospital in Newport.

a hip x-ray
50,000 hip replacements take place every year in the UK

Marcus Longley, Associate Director of the Welsh Institute for Health and Social Care, said the case highlights the problems hospitals are having with orthopaedics.

"To some extent this is a special case, because one of the factors in this issue is her age," he said.

"You are reluctant to do the operation too early because the hips only have a certain lifespan."

However, he did say the situation was improving in Wales.

"It looks like the figures have turned the corner and are getting better, but we are still substantially behind England."

Fred Johnson, from Arthritis Research - a charity which supports people with arthritis and lobbies to find a cure for the illness - described Mrs Purdey's case as "saddening".

He says he hopes that the work by the Welsh Assembly Government to develop an all-Wales arthritis strategy could help people like Mrs Purdey in the future.

The strategy - which would be the first of its kind in Wales - would take a co-ordinated approach to arthritis and look at things like priority waiting times.




SEE ALSO:
OAP may sue over op wait
28 Oct 03  |  Wales



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