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Northern Ireland health crisis: 'I'd love to be able to enjoy my retirement without fear of pain'

Allan Davies: Faces a five and a half year wait for a hip replacement. Western Trust

Allan Davies

Allan Davies from Portstewart, Co Londonderry, has been waiting three years for a hip replacement.

He was told earlier this year he will probably need to wait two and a half years more.

"I'm not holding out much hope of it happening any time soon," said the retired civil servant, who is 67.

"When my doctor told me at the beginning that the waiting list could be as long as three years, they seemed quite confident back then it wouldn't take that long. Now though it looks like it could be five and a half years on the waiting list before I get the surgery I need."

Allan's problems developed after a fall during a photographic holiday in Donegal in 2016.

"I had a fall near the Poisoned Glen and at the beginning didn't worry too much about it," he said. "But I ended up in terrible, excruciating pain and the doctor came out to give me injections and painkillers. When I was sent to have my hips checked, they said I'd need my right hip replaced."

Since then the pain has become progressively worse for grandfather-of-five Allan, an amateur photographer and once a keen walker who completed 25 long distance walks over the years.

"I don't want to overplay it because I know there are people worse off," he said. "But at its worst it's bad and I need a walking stick.

"I take painkillers every day, which means I'm on medication I'd really rather not rely on.

"And I have since developed additional problems with my knee, but I have to do physiotherapy as a first step before surgery. Hopefully that will help."

His ongoing discomfort is a source of frustration for Allan, who is originally from Edinburgh.

A Western Trust spokesperson said orthopaedic surgery performance has changed significantly over the 12 years from 2007.

"In 2007 the waiting time was 13 weeks from GP referral to outpatient appointment and this is now 270 weeks. In 2007 the waiting time from outpatient appointment to surgery was 26 weeks and now this figure is 240 weeks," they added.

They said the increase was due to several key factors.

The Trust is continuing to manage increases in unscheduled (emergency) admissions to the hospital including fracture/trauma patients. Winter pressures also allow only urgent cases to be admitted. And there has been no independent sector provision allocated by the HSCB this year.

The spokesperson added: "It is important to note that the demand for orthopaedic services across the whole of Northern Ireland is greater than the existing capacity to provide the service."

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