Former nurse in constant pain as health boards rejects surgeon’s request to fund operation
PUBLISHED: 07:00 13 August 2018
A retired nurse from Worle is living in agony with a huge hernia – but a health board responsible for funding North Somerset’s NHS services is refusing the operation a consulting surgeon says she ‘urgently’ needs.
Alison Wilson was diagnosed with a hernia in January, and told she needs surgery as soon as possible.
A Weston General Hospital consultant said Alison would have to wait, as a funding board run by the Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group (BNSSG CCG) needed to approve the use of a biomesh.
However, when the board met to examine the case, it refused to allow the funding application – even though the surgeon says the biomesh is Alison’s only option and she will not use any other mesh due to the health risks.
The biomesh is estimated to cost between £8,000-£11,000, while a plastic mesh alternative, which the surgeon refuses to use, could be around £700-800.
Alison, aged 65, said: “I cannot walk, I am in agony. It is having a massive impact on our lives because I cannot do anything.
“The surgeon said she cannot use anything other than the biomesh and she was absolutely beside herself when the funding was turned down.
“She said ‘how dare they overrule a consultant surgeon?’ The board is withholding the equipment needed for the operation.”
The panel, which has never met with the surgeon or Alison to discuss the application, said the ‘exceptionality’ of the case was not clearly demonstrated.
Alison said: “It is definitely a financial decision. We are fighting the CCG on this. The panel can just overrule a consultant’s decision without seeing me, or without the surgeon going to the panel to fight her case.
“We are not asking for charity or money. We are asking for the board to get its finger out and grant the money so I can have this operation. How many other people is this happening to?”
In the meantime, Alison is struggling with her health as her organs have started to move. It makes it more likely the hernia could rupture – at which point the surgery would also be carried out.
A spokesman for BNSSG CCG said: “We commission hernia surgery using synthetic mesh for all patients.
“The latest clinical evidence does not show that biological mesh provides enhanced treatment outcomes.
“We would encourage clinicians to discuss with commissioners when they wish to use biological mesh for hernia operations and this will be assessed on a case by case basis.”
One appeal option may be for the surgeon to take the case to a national hernia centre for funding.