Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland child faces four year agony wait for surgery

'Zac is in pain all the time, he can’t even bear to have clothes on him'... yet this 10-year-old must wait nearly four years for the surgery he needs

By Stephanie Bell

The mum of a 10-year-old boy who is in agony with a urology condition has revealed her son has been told he will have to wait up to four years for treatment.

Amanda Wallace-Pews, from Scarva in Co Down, branded the news that the consultant in charge of her son Zac's case has a 191 week waiting list for appointments as "cruel".

Little Zac has missed most of his Primary 7 year since developing a health issue in September which may need surgery to correct.

His mum says he is in pain night and day and is currently on two medications which she says are only taking the edge off his discomfort.

After contacting her local Ulster Unionist MLA Doug Beattie for help, she was astonished when he received an email last week stating it could be an incredible 191 weeks before Zac could see the urologist in charge of his case.

Mrs Wallace-Pews (41), who is also mum to Josh (14), said: "That is almost four years and will be the whole of Zac's high school years leading up to preparing for his GCSEs.

"He has already missed about two months of his P7 year, which is a very important year, and we have been doing some schoolwork at home to try and prevent him from falling behind.

"The child is in pain 24/7. He can't walk right and is uncomfortable all the time. He can't even bear to have clothes on him.

"I can't believe that we are being told he will have to endure that for another four years. It's cruel and an absolute disgrace."

Zac did try to return to Scarva Primary School last week but was sent home at lunchtime because he was so ill and he hasn't been able to return again.

He had just started a soccer club in September when he started to complain of pain.

His mum took him to his GP who sent him straight to A&E in Craigavon Area Hospital.

Zac was examined and after an ultrasound scan was given an antibiotic to treat an infection.

When the pain didn't subside his mum returned to A&E with him again in October.

He was again advised to continue on antibiotics and told he would get an outpatients appointment with urology.

He was due to be seen by an urologist in November but the appointment was cancelled that morning and his mum was told it would be after Christmas before he received another appointment.

By that stage Zac wasn't sleeping with the pain and was unable to leave the house so his mum again took him to A&E.

During that visit in November, a consultant diagnosed a twisted testicle and said he would be referred to urology in the Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children.

In the meantime Zac was put on two different painkillers, which his mum says have not controlled the level of pain he is in.

When she rang the Royal to see when Zac might get an appointment, she was told it could be next June.

It was at this stage that she asked her local MLA Doug Beattie for help and was staggered to get a letter stating that the consultant waiting list was, in fact, 191 weeks.

The letter goes on to apologise for the waiting time, adding: "This is because the Trust currently does not have enough capacity to see all the patients on the waiting list and we are also concentrating on cancer patients which is why our waiting times have increased."

Amanda said: "Zac will be nearly 15 before they see him. It is shocking. He is already depressed about it and it is hard to watch him suffering the way he is.

"He can't walk far with the pain and he is crying with it and not sleeping.

"He is not socialising because he can't go out and play, and he has missed so much school.

"He is a wee boy who was always ready to go on bike rides with me or walk the dog and now he has no get up and go.

"It's heartbreaking and it is a disgrace that the child has to suffer every day."

Doug Beattie urged the Trust to consider Zac's case again and said he was so shocked by the waiting time that at first he thought the Trust had made a mistake.

He says: "I think there are two issues here. First this is a young lad of 10 years of age whose body is going through a transition and this is a really serious issue that could affect him for years to come.

"The waiting list is absolutely staggering. When I got the letter I thought they had made a mistake and I rang them, only to be told there was no mistake.

"I feel for his parents and also for this young lad who is going through terrible pain.

"I am not saying he should jump ahead of anyone else on the list, but he is only 10 and is off school and he will be 14 before they will see him.

"It's shameful and I would ask them to look at his case and the other factors of his age and try to get him up that list."

The Belfast Telegraph understands that the list refers to a wait for surgery should Zac need it after he is seen at the Royal.

A spokesman for the Southern Trust said: "We are unable to discuss the details of individual patients, but deeply regret that our waiting times at present are longer than we would like them to be.

"We continue to keep this case under review."

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