Lisa switches waiting list to get treatment she needs

‘Unusual’ knee operation response from surgeon leaves patient in tears 
“I thought – ‘what’s happening to me?’” – patient
Facebook leads patient to Peninsula NHS Treatment Centre for surgery
“Our right to switch waiting lists if we have been told we must waiting for longer than 18 weeks is enshrined in the NHS Constitution, but it is not well known or understood” – Head of Nursing and Clinical services
Switching to a shorter waiting list – what you need to know
The 5 reasons why you may need knee surgery
Video interview with patient
If you need an operation and you first meet with your surgeon, you need to be reassured that they know how to carry out the treatment you require. So when Lisa Morgan-Anstee, 50, a teaching assistant from Newton Abbot, was told by a surgeon that he had never done the type of knee operation she needed, he would attempt it but it might result in her needing a total knee replacement, she was understandably upset and keen to seek an alternative.
Until September last year Lisa was a healthy, active individual with a busy job as a teaching assistant at Decoy Primary School in Newton Abbot, taking long walks and enjoying her garden.
Suddenly, her left knee started to give her severe pain. “It was really painful and hard to walk with,” said Lisa. “There was a lot of swelling so I decided to see my GP to see what the problem might be.”
Initially her GP suggested that she might have pulled a muscle or tendon and that it would ‘calm down’. In fact the pain increased, and she returned to her GP who prescribed anti-inflammatory drugs – with no effect.
Lisa had an appointment with her chiropractor and mentioned the problem with her knee. Her chiropractor recognised that she had a lot of fluid around her knee and an ultrasound confirmed this. She was advised to see her GP again and ask to have the fluid aspirated.
Said Lisa: “At this point I just wanted the swelling and the pain to be gone. I asked for the fluid to be aspirated and this was done, albeit reluctantly. I was also given steroid injections which would work for a week, and then the pain would be back. I kept going to the doctor who continued to prescribe anti-inflammatories. They even suggested at one point that it was gout and started treating me for that.”
She added: “I begged to be referred to an orthopaedic surgeon. I was in so much pain that I was in tears. I was still working and trying to carry on as best as I could, but no one seemed to be interested.”
Over Christmas Lisa went on a day trip to Bath. At home the following day she could barely get out of bed – “it was really bad: I was having to hold on to things just to get around the house.”
Lisa’s husband suggested that they pay for her to see someone, so Lisa booked a private appointment with a doctor. “The moment I walked through the door she said she could see that my knee had collapsed. I was both horrified and relieved, because here was someone telling me what was wrong. Once you know what the problem is, you can do something about it.”
The doctor fast-forwarded Lisa for an X-ray and scans on the NHS – an MRI confirmed that her knee had collapsed and that the cartilage had degenerated.
Lisa said: “I was off work at this point. I was given an appointment at my local general hospital to see a specialist, and at this point I was really positive about things. I needed a partial knee replacement, but it was unusual in that it was the outside of the knee which needed replacing. Imagine my horror when the specialist said he had never done the operation before but was willing to ‘give it a go’, and that if it didn’t work he could perform a full knee replacement.”
She continued: “I was shocked and burst into tears. I thought – ‘what’s happening to me?’. It was not reassuring and it was not what I expected to hear. I had already signed to go ahead with the operation with my local general hospital, but after the conversation with the specialist I was determined to find an alternative.”
Lisa found Peninsula NHS Treatment Centre in Plymouth on Facebook. Further research found profiles on consultant surgeons and lots of positive feedback from patients.
She said: “I found all this really reassuring, so I emailed Peninsula to ask if anyone there did the operation I needed. A reply came straight back to say yes, one of their consultants could do it. I was so relieved.”
Lisa returned to her GP to ask to be switched to Peninsula NHS Treatment Centre. She had her first appointment there in March followed by full-length leg X-rays at Derriford Hospital. On 1st May she had her pre-operative appointment at Peninsula with the consultant orthopaedic surgeon who would carry out her operation, Tomasz Wudecki, and she had her surgery on 15th June. Had she stayed with her local general hospital she would not have received treatment until August at the earliest.
Lisa said: “The whole experience, the operation and the care, was absolutely five star. Even being able to park right outside was wonderful – when I went to Derriford for my X-ray it took 20 minutes to find a space to park and that was a long way from the entrance, especially if like me you were on crutches.”
She added: “The moment you walk in to Peninsula you feel comfortable, that everyone is very professional and that you could be the only patient in that day. The after care has been amazing. Had I remained with my local general hospital I would have been discharged on the same day. At Peninsula I stayed for two days and the pain relief, advice, physio have really helped my rehabilitation now I’m back at home. I really can’t praise them enough.”
Sue Farrell, Head of Nursing and Clinical Governance at Peninsula NHS Treatment Centre, commented: “We are so pleased that we have been able to help Lisa when she needed it the most. She is among a growing number of patients who have chosen to move from their current waiting list at another care provider and come to us for their treatment. Our right to do this if we have been told we must waiting for longer than 18 weeks is enshrined in the NHS Constitution, but it is not well known or understood.”
Peninsula NHS Treatment Centre is the first hospital of its kind to have received a rating of ‘Outstanding’ from the Care Quality Commission. It provides a range of major and minor surgery in orthopaedics, cataracts and endoscopy. More information is available by visiting its website at or calling 01752 506070.
Switching to a shorter waiting list – what you need to know
NHS England offers guidance to patients about swapping to a shorter waiting list.
If you find yourself in this position and you are waiting for a procedure, you should contact the Devon Referral Support Service (DRSS) to talk about transferring your care. The DRSS may be able to do this at that point, or it may advise you to go to your GP and ask for a referral to Peninsula NHS Treatment Centre or other provider of your choice. If you do not hear from the DRSS within one week, you should contact your local Care Commissioning Group to ask for the transfer.
When you contact the DRSS you may be given a list of hospitals to choose from. If Peninsula NHS Treatment Centre or other provider of your choice is not on that list you still have the right to come here if you wish to – let the DRSS know.
Once all this is done your referral information, diagnostic results and waiting list information will be transferred to your chosen hospital.
5 signs you may need knee replacement surgery
More than 70,000 knee replacements took place across England and Wales last year. It is a major, yet effective and common operation and over time becomes the only way to eradicate pain and improve quality of life.
How do you know when you may need a knee replacement? Here are 5 signs to look out for and to discuss with your GP:
24-hour severe pain in the knee and the surrounding area, or elsewhere such as the hip or ankle, which impacts on your daily life even when you are resting
Swelling and inflammation of the knee which no longer responds to medication
Stiffness in the knee and immobility
‘Bowing’ of the leg
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs no longer provide relief from pain