A GRANDMOTHER who has waited 14 months for an operation after being caught up in NHS Lothian’s waiting list crisis has finally been offered a date – just hours after her plight was raised by the Evening News.
Betty McAlpine, a retired bank teller from Musselburgh, was told in May 2011 about a procedure to fit a permanent catheter that could cure the bladder problems which had been making her life a misery for five years.
The 69-year-old was put on a waiting list, but after 14 months had not received any offer of treatment, despite guidelines stating that she should have been treated within 12 weeks.
But yesterday, just hours after the Evening News contacted NHS Lothian on Ms McAlpine’s behalf, she was finally offered a date for the procedure and an apology from the health board.
“I’d phoned them three times to try and find out what’s happening,” said Ms McAlpine, who says she had not booked holidays as she did not want to miss the operation.
“Every time they just said I’m on the waiting list, but they’re very busy. The condition isn’t life threatening, but it’s making my life a misery on a daily basis. I got all the apologies. I said ‘that’s fine’, but I’m still aggrieved it’s taken 14 months.”
Ms McAlpine is one of 7200 patients in the Lothians who has been waiting longer than they should have to for treatment. NHS Lothian has announced plans to spend £20 million in a bid to clear waiting lists this year, including more than £10m to send patients to private hospitals.
But Ms McAlpine, who has three children and five grandchildren, said that until yesterday she had been left completely in the dark as to when she would be treated, and that the delay was affecting her social life and causing depression.
“I’d never had anything offered to me at all. I would have gladly taken it if I had,” she said. “The last time I phoned I got a bit peeved. I said: ‘What’s this about 18 weeks or 12 weeks?’ They couldn’t answer me.
“My condition is embarrassing. It’s having a big effect on my day to day life. I’m going to the toilet ten times a day. I may go out and have an accident and be totally embarrassed.”
Ms McAlpine is set to have the operation at the Western General Hospital in August.
Jackie Sansbury, chief operating officer for NHS Lothian, said: “I would like to personally apologise to Ms McAlpine who, like others, has waited longer than we would want for surgery. Ms McAlpine contacted us today to discuss her care, following which we are now able to offer her an appointment date next month.”