Retired postman David swaps waiting list for faster treatment

When retired postman and keen angler David Paine had been waiting nine months for a knee replacement after his GP recommended he have surgery with no sign of an operation date in sight, he was at the point despair.

But reading an article about a woman who had chosen to travel 150 miles for a knee replacement gave David the idea to take a similar approach – and just a few weeks later his knee was replaced and he was home making a full recovery.

David’s story began in January 2017, when after months of pain and instability he visited his GP. After an examination his GP sent him for X-rays, and when they came back his doctor advised him that there was no other treatment option than the replacement of both knees.

However, his GP explained that David would need physiotherapy before he could be referred to his local general hospital for his operation – but that it would take two months to get an appointment.

“At my first physio appointment I asked the receptionist why the wait was two months for a 20 minute appointment and was told that it allowed ‘space’ for emergency treatments,” said David.

A month later David received a letter for another physiotherapy appointment with a different physiotherapist, who told that him he should be helping his condition with painkillers and not expecting surgery.

Some time later David saw his GP again who told him that despite this advice, both physiotherapists had recommended him for surgery. “This rather got my hopes up as I was getting more and more immobile. I was given an appointment to see a consultant at my local district general hospital in October – I attended this appointment but his assessment was that I was ‘initially non operative’, said David.  “By this point the pain in my right knee particularly was excruciating and I was prone for falling on rough and uneven surfaces. In fact, I had one very heavy fall when my knee just gave way and I thought I had broken my arm.”

David returned to his GP who suggested he contact the consultant to see if he could take any last minute cancellations there might have been before Christmas. “This was in early December,” commented David. “I was told in no uncertain terms that this was not possible and that it would be at least another 11 months before I could expect surgery – it was quite upsetting.”

At around this time David read an article in his local newspaper about a lady who had travelled 150 miles for a knee replacement and in so doing had taken months off her waiting time.

“I rang my GP about this to let him know, and initially he said he could not refer me outside the region,” said David. “In response I wrote him a formal letter enclosing a copy of the article and ‘bingo’, about a week later I received a letter from a consultant at the treatment centre inviting me to attend a pre-operative assessment. I had my first knee replaced on 23rd January and will have the second done as soon as I am fit.”

David added: “If I had stayed on the original waiting list, I reckon I would have had my operation about two years after that first appointment with my GP. I have only one word to describe the staff and care at the treatment centre, and that is ‘exemplary’. The whole thing simply cannot be improved on. People need to know that organisations like the treatment centre are out there, and that if they have been told they will wait for longer than 18 weeks for their treatment it is their right to ask to be moved to another, shorter waiting list for their NHS surgery.”