A patient who faced a 16-month wait for surgery on his knees has revealed that he paid £13,000 to have a replacement operation done privately.
Rick Loup first saw his GP in May last year with suspected osteoarthritis in both knees. He was told he could pay £160 for a private outpatient appointment which led the consultant who saw him to write to his GP saying he required replacement knee surgery.
However, Loup later discovered to his “horror” that he was still on the waiting list for an outpatient diagnosis appointment after being told that NHS Lothian no longer accepted referrals from private surgeons.
By November,the 60-year-old from Edinburgh decided he could no longer bear the pain and paid to have his right knee replaced privately.
Ironically, according to Loup the same surgeon who carried out the procedure would have operated on him if he’d waited to get it done on the NHS.
He said: “By October/November time I was on heavy-duty painkillers and I was having to take time off work and I thought I’m going to lose my job. I went back to the private hospital and got a date for surgery at the end of November. I only had to wait a couple of weeks. I got the knee replacement surgery done on my right knee and I’ve been recovering since.”
He added: “I stayed on the NHS waiting list for an outpatient appointment for my left knee which I still have arthritis in and I was eventually seen at the end of March 2018. I’m still within the NHS system and I’m going back to see the same surgeon who did my right knee privately, working for the NHS in October to decide whether we need to do the left knee as well. A previous X-ray showed that I had arthritis in both knees but it was more acute in the right one – plus it would be really traumatic to have both done at the same time.”
Loup, who works as a duty manager at a garden centre, waited 43 weeks for an outpatient appointment.
In 2012 the Scottish Government introduced the Treatment Time Guarantee, which gave patients a legal right to treatment within 12 weeks for conditions such as knee and eye operations. The guarantee was established from The Patient Rights (Scotland) Act 2011, and has been broken more than 100,000 times since 2012.
Loup added: “My problem, and what makes me very angry, is essentially there’s a cover-up going on politically, at the top levels of the NHS under pressure from the Scottish Government. This legal guarantee is an appalling lie to the public. They are pretending the situation is under control and every time they’re criticised they say ‘well we’ve applied for more money and it will get better at some point’. This has been going on for so long it seems to me to be totally inexcusable.”