OAP forced to pay for operation as NHS turns him down
A 77-YEAR-OLD man had to use his savings to pay for a £3,000 hernia operation after the NHS refused to foot the bill.
John Morris' hernia was worsening every month and a surgeon at Bristol Royal Infirmary told him he required surgery to correct the painful problem.
But when he had not received an appointment for the procedure five months later he discovered that NHS Bristol – which pays for health service care in the city – would not fund the operation.
Mr Morris, of Shirehampton, said he feels "let down by the NHS" after paying his national insurance for 47 years and serving in the RAF for four.
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He first started noticing signs of the hernia a year ago but did not seek medical help until March, when his GP referred him to Bristol Royal Infirmary.
Mr Morris was informed that the primary care trust had considered his case at its exceptional funding committee and would not pay for the surgery.
The former British Aerospace logistics manager was referred to the Spire Hospital in Redland, where it was confirmed that he required an operation to deal with the hernia, which was causing him considerable discomfort, and he paid the necessary £3,000.
"The doctors were trying to do their best for me and they thought I would get it done but it didn't happen. The last time I saw a doctor before the operation I was in so much pain and could not go on any longer without the surgery. When they looked at it at the Spire they said I needed it operated on within days."
Mr Morris said that as a pensioner he had some money put away but fears there may be others who would not have the savings to pay for the procedure privately.
"I am coming up towards 78 now and when you need some help it just is not there," he said. "I have paid in 47 years of stamps with not one missing and four years in the military.
"There is a strong chance that the NHS may have got it wrong in their decision. But when they wrote to me they said the case was closed.
"My concern is that there are other people out there who are not getting the surgery they need."
Mr Morris has now written to Prime Minister David Cameron, Health Secretary Andrew Lansley, opposition leader Ed Miliband and his local MP Charlotte Leslie about the matter as well as the chief executive of NHS Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire and the exceptional funding committee.
"Charlotte Leslie has got back to me with some information and told me she has reason to believe that the NHS may have made a mistake in my case and is looking into it.
"It seems that when a hernia seems to be getting worse month by month, as mine was, they should fund the operation."
Mr Morris said that he had cause to use the NHS about 25 years ago with no trouble whatsoever but is now concerned the National Health Service is "no longer safe in the hands of the government of the day".
NHS Bristol classify hernias as a condition which requires prior arrangement for funding rather than being routinely available on the NHS.
A spokeswoman for NHS Bristol said: "We considered all of the information supplied but unfortunately were not supplied any evidence to clearly demonstrate that the patient meets the criteria outlined in our published policy for accessing this treatment. In responding to the application from his consultant, we invited them to provide some evidence to show that he meets the criteria and also provided details of how to appeal this decision. No further evidence or information was received by NHS Bristol.
"Demand for treatment continues to outstrip the resources we have available, hence we have to prioritise all treatments we are requested to provide."