A woman who has already waited seven years for a hip replacement operation said she fears the impact of coronavirus on the NHS will mean she never gets her surgery.
Lynn McCarron (62) from the Galliagh area of Londonderry has been prescribed the maximum dose of two highly addictive painkilling medicines, although the level of pain she endures every day means getting around her own home is difficult.
A shopping trip needs meticulous planning and Lynn must be accompanied by family because she has fallen a number of times. Yet there is no indication from the Western Trust she will get her operation any time soon.
Ms McCarron said that while she tries not to give up hope, at times she does despair and the impact of the current pandemic has exacerbated her fears.
She said: "I last saw my consultant at Altnagelvin two years ago when I was asked if a cancellation came up would I be able to come to the hospital at short notice and of course I said yes.
"That was the last I heard from the hospital until last Christmas when I received a letter asking me if I still wanted my operation which of course I do but no one has been in contact with me since. I am worried I may never get my operation because the NHS was already short of money before coronavirus and it has even less money now because of it."
Ms McCarron's need for a hip replacement was first identified by her GP seven years ago but she wasn't eligible to go on a waiting list until she turned 60 years of age - almost three years ago.
In the meantime, she has been prescribed heavy medication to control the pain but this has also brought Ms McCarron concern. She continued: "My GP prescribed tramadol and naproxen for the pain - at first I was on the lowest dose but for the past four years I have been on the maximum dose. But even with that there are days when I still need to take paracetamol and ibuprofen.
"I know how addictive tramadol and naproxen are and it is a worry to me.
"I was brought up to make the most of what you have and I do try to be positive but there are times I do get down when I think about how much longer I might have to be in this pain.
"Because I have so much pain in my hip, I try to keep my weight off it as much as possible but that has meant I have put extra pressure on my back and knee and my GP now thinks I will need my knee replaced too.
"I have fallen a few times, so I need someone with me all the time and going to the shops needs a lot of planning and help from my family.
"I have to be driven to as close to the shops as I can because I can't walk very far, but I can only go to shops that I know have a chair so I can rest. Even getting around my house is difficult. It isn't really suitable for me anymore because of the stairs so I am on the waiting list for either a bungalow or a downstairs flat.
"All of this could be so different if I had the hip operation I have been waiting so long for and I am hoping and hoping that will happen some day soon."
A spokeswoman for the Western Trust said: "The Western Trust apologises to patients who experience long waiting times. Unfortunately due to the very difficult circumstances the health and social care system is currently under, this may impact further on waiting times. At present all emergency surgery, red flag/cancer surgery and procedures deemed clinically urgent by senior teams are proceeding."