"Waiting for surgery"

About: Queen Elizabeth University Hospital Glasgow / Brain, spinal and nerve problems

(as the patient),

My husband and I come under the Ayrshire and Arran Health Board and have been referred to the spinal unit under the Greater Glasgow and Clyde Health Board as this is where the special treatment unit is for the west coast of Scotland.

Several hospitals have been closed in the GG&C and have been replaced with the large modern Queen Elizabeth Hospital. This has a neurological surgical theatre, state of the art theatres with lots of specialist equipment – there are 4 of them. However, 3 have been closed for many months due to raw sewage running down the walls, this has severe impacts for people waiting for treatment as is the case for both my husband and me.

About a year ago my husband needed surgery on his back and was referred to the neurosurgery unit by our GP, this was in March 2015. It was 4 months before he saw the surgeon who said it would be 12 weeks before he could operate, in the meantime he wanted to have a nerve conduction test to rule out other treatment. In fact it was 12 weeks before the nerve conduction test was carried out, this supported the need for surgery and when surgery was finally carried out, in December 2015, only part of the proposed treatment was given. In all this time my husband was on sick pay which reduced our income.

Whilst my husband was on sick pay I was the main breadwinner and worked long hours as a carer in the health industry. For the past 15 years I too have had a medical condition which has just been properly diagnosed (a condition that causes extra bone growth, Mastocytosis). I am allergic to antibiotics and to many painkillers. However, I worked as long as I could but last April I started to get pains in my legs which made it feel as if they were burning. I pushed on but in August I ended up in hospital. When I returned to work and told my employer I was sacked.

My GP arranged for x-rays which showed 5 discs in my spine had deteriorated, 2 have prolapsed and was given a referral to the MSK unit. Following an appointment with MSK an urgent referral was made to a neurosurgeon at Southern General, however, they have deemed my condition to need ‘routine’ attention. I am now confined to a wheelchair, am unable to drive and my GP is concerned that I am becoming addicted to diazepam, the only painkiller I can tolerate. Presumably this is because of the excessive demand on the one operating theatre that is currently available.

I cannot have a carer until I have been assessed by the DWP, so till then both my husband and I are dependent on the ESA payment we receive.

None of this is the fault of the surgeons whose access to operating theatres is so severely limited nor of the staff at the MSK unit who are trying their best to ease the pain for their patients. However, the powers that be could consider re-opening the hospitals that are currently closed until the theatres at Queen Elizabeth are in use again.

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Response from Lisa Ramsay, Patient Experience Public Involvement Team Support, NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde

Dear Waiting 126

Thank you for taking the time to share your experience on Patient Opinion. I am so sorry to read about what you and your husband have been going through for over a year now. I appreciate that this must have been and continues to be an extremely difficult time for both of you and the impact this has had on your lives. I am sorry that your husband’s surgery was delayed and I do hope that he is recovering well.

As you are now experiencing a delay in waiting for surgery and because of the effects that this delay is causing, I wanted to be able to provide you with some information on some of the issues that you have raised.

I have passed on your post to the Clinical Services Manager for Neurosurgery & Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery and she asked me to share this with you.

“Dear Waiting 126

I am very sorry to hear that you have had a lengthy wait for surgery and for the additional anxiety this situation has caused. It may be helpful firstly to explain that sewage ingress was experienced within the recovery areas of the first floor theatre complex within the Institute of Neurological Sciences in February 2016 and not in the new Queen Elizabeth University Hospital theatre complex. The incident was responded to promptly by the Estates Department staff, together with the appropriate level of cleaning and sanitisation taking place thereafter.

Further to the remedial action that was undertaken, a drainage survey was undertaken throughout the entire building as NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde believes it was important to identify any other challenges within local drainage. Following on from the outcome of the survey, further remedial works were required to replace parts of the drainage infrastructure that caused concern. This work has now been completed.

Regrettably, during this period we had to cancel elective (planned) surgery and there has been a delay for some non-elective surgery and I would like to sincerely apologise for this. During the period of downtime a number of sites within NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde and in other centres were used to maintain as much operative capacity as possible. Patient selection to go elsewhere was carried out on an individual basis and was dependent on clinical priority, the type of procedure and immediate post operative care requirements. Regrettably many Neurosurgical patients are not suitable to go to other hospitals due to the nature of their condition.

We have recommenced booking patients based on clinical priority and date on which they were cancelled and although we are not able to provide you with a definite date for surgery at the moment, we will do everything we can to admit you for your operation at the earliest opportunity. One of the ways we are doing this is by running additional lists to help us reduce the wait for patients who have experienced a delay. If you do feel that your condition is becoming worse, I would encourage you to talk to your GP to review this.

Once again I apologise for the anxiety caused due the unavoidable delay and hope that the information is helpful in explaining the reasons for this.

Kind regards
Eleanor Sommerville
Clinical Service Manager
Neurosurgery & Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery”

I hope that the information Eleanor has provided is helpful.

Best wishes

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Update posted by Waiting126 (the patient)

I thank you for the response, however as my husband waited from June till Dec 2015 for the actual surgery; not including the wait from April to June for the initial consultation. And at the initial consultation he was told about the sewerage ingress in 3 theatres and only 1 was in use. That disagrees with your dates by nearly 6 months? Unless of course it happened twice?

I have now seen a member of staff who has refused me surgery and although told I'm in considerable pain sent me away with a suggestion of acupuncture and disputed the MRI findings; therefore I'm currently awaiting for a private opinion from a spinal specialist. So no further forward indeed backwards. So thank you for the response but it makes no sense at all due to most of this occurring 6 months prior to your dates!

Response from Lisa Ramsay, Patient Experience Public Involvement Team Support, NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde

Dear Waiting126

I have shared your response with Eleanor Sommerville. She has asked me to provide you with her email address, Eleanor.Sommerville@ggc.scot.nhs.uk, should you wish to contact her directly with some personal details so she can address the issues that you have highlighted here on Patient Opinion.

Best wishes

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