Entry in online diary: Sneaky, but clever

QE hospital Birmingham

Update: 9 July 2004

It has now been more than four weeks since Alan saw Mr Bonser and was told that he could do the operation, on a private basis, within a month, with the same operative risks as those given by surgeons in the USA. Mr Bonser indicated that he wants to do Alan’s surgery at the Queen Elizabeth NHS hospital in Birmingham rather than The Priory BUPA hospital because there are better facilities and equipment to carry out such a massive two-day operation.

In that time we have been waiting for the letter to arrive with a date for that operation – indeed, Alan should be in hospital by now, having that operation. As nothing seemed to be forthcoming I phoned Mr Bonser’s private secretary and she said she’s heard nothing from the PCT either in writing or by telephone (here we go again).

I then phoned Mr Bonser’s NHS secretary and she said she’d received a letter some weeks ago from the PCT asking three things:

1. The estimated time Alan would have to wait for an operation on Mr Bonser’s NHS list, and how long on his private list.

2. The relative cost for the proposed intervention as a private and NHS patient.

3. Whether or not the risks to Alan’s health would be increased by a longer waiting time.

In my opinion, there was no intention on the part of the PCT to write to Mr Bonser’s private secretary to obtain costings for any private operation so they could compare. Nor was there any intention to com­pare waiting lists. The intention, I believe, was that they wanted Alan to be put on the NHS waiting list, despite previous prom­ises, and they wanted to find out if his condition could tolerate an additional four months’ waiting time. Sneaky, but clever.

Given that Alan has already had to wait 16 months for any kind of operation, and in that time his aneurysm has grown from a dangerously large 6.1 cm to an even more dangerously large 8 cm, we both found it hard to believe that these quest­ions were being asked – especially as the PCT had agreed, in writing, weeks ago to pay for the tests and treatment privately. As usual they are now trying to backtrack to save some money by trying to find out if Alan could wait another 4½ months by being put on the NHS waiting list.

Letters of a less than polite nature were written at speed, by my own fair hand, to the PCT, which involved threats of surg­ical removal of valuable body parts with a blunt, rusted instrument – actually, that’s not true; but that’s what I wanted to say.

As I said many months ago, I am of the opinion that the PCT are stalling for time in the hope that Alan will die – it seems they are trying to find any excuse not to pay for his operation. They have proved me right time and time again – building up our hopes and shattering them – by telling us things on the telephone that don’t match the things they are putting in writing, that Alan would have the best treatment available in the world if Mr Bonser couldn’t do the operation, and it was agreed that Dr Coselli in Houston was the world expert for the kind of re-do operation Alan needs. Now they are query­ing the cost of the surgery – a query that has, so far, taken more than four extra weeks. Any surgery in this country can only be less expensive than surgery in Houston.

Having received my letter, prior to a meeting to discuss Alan’s case, the result is that the PCT have once again agreed to pay for the operation on a private basis.

It’s only taken them 4½ weeks to re-make their original promise. My last update suggested that we were celebrating, but now we can’t raise any enthusiasm whatsoever because we await the next downfall with bated breath.

In the meantime, my mother also had to attend the Queen Elizabeth hospital for tests to determine her suitability for surg­ery to repair a leaking heart valve and (can you believe) a thoracic aneurysm was also found on her aortic arch. Her doctor immediately emailed the NHS to put the wheels in motion for surgery. MRI scans are being arranged and she’s been put on the NHS waiting list already – all that was done on the same day whilst she was still in the hospital. The results of the scan will determine her place on the list.

Now, call me quaint, but am I the only one around here to think that my mother will get her operation before Alan? She’s been waiting for six days so far and has been on the NHS waiting list since day one. Alan has been waiting for 16 months and isn’t on any list. Whilst I am devast­ated to learn that my mother also has an aneurysm, I couldn’t wish for her to be in better hands than – yep, you’ve guessed it – Mr Bonser!