A woman who had waited eight years for a hip operation at Altnagelvin Area Hospital has had her procedure in a private clinic in Galway paid for by the Western Trust.
Lynn McCarron (62), from the Galliagh area of Londonderry, endured intense pain which meant even moving around her home was difficult and a shopping trip was impossible.
However, an unexpected call asking if she was available to have her hip operation at the Galway Clinic at the end of March was an answer to her prayers.
She is now well on her way to increased and pain-free mobility.
Mrs McCarron's operation was carried out by a doctor who is an employee of the trust and who also performs orthopaedic procedures in a private capacity at the Galway Clinic.
While the Western Trust would not reveal the cost of Mrs McCarron's operation, a spokesman did say she was one of 13 patients who have had their operations at a private clinic paid for from funding received from the Health and Social Care Board since the end of March.
Mrs McCarron said she was relieved her long wait for a hip replacement was over.
She added: "Out of the blue, I received a call to say I could have it in the Galway Clinic and that Altnagelvin hospital would pay for it. In fact, the girl told me it would be Dr Danny Acton, who works at Altnagelvin, who would be operating.
"I went to the Galway Clinic and it was like booking into a five-star hotel. The rooms, the food... everything was amazing.
"I had my operation the following day and a couple of days later I was back home in Derry."
Prior to the procedure, Mrs McCarron was on high-strength painkillers.
She said: "Although I am not fully recovered, I am on half the number of painkillers that I had been taking.
"I had been taking high levels of tramadol and naproxen, which are very addictive.
"I was worried about that, but I really can manage the pain now with paracetamol.
"If I continue the way I have been, I think it will be no time before I don't need any pain relief.
"After struggling for eight long years, where I couldn't even go shopping, I now have something to look forward to."
An initiative launched by the trust at the end of March means that people like Mrs McCarron, who have spent years lingering on orthopaedic waiting lists, are now getting their operations.
A spokesman for the Western Trust explained: "The trust was asked, along with other trusts providing orthopaedic services, to seek out capacity in the independent sector across Northern Ireland, Great Britain and the Republic.
"This capacity was then utilised after a contract was established to treat patients prior to the end of March 2021.
"Given the challenges faced by the trust to restart elective services and the significant backlog of patients awaiting treatment, the trust welcomes the continuation of the contract with the Health and Social Care Board at the North West Independent Clinic to provide theatres and staffing for NHS surgeons to work there as part of their NHS contract.
"The trust also welcomes any additional funding that can be made available to continue to treat patients through contracts with other independent sector providers in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland."