herald

Friday 21 September 2018

'I've been waiting 3 years just to see a doctor' - widow

Betty Farnham has been waiting for an appointment to see a specialist since 2015
Betty Farnham has been waiting for an appointment to see a specialist since 2015

A Dublin grandmother crippled with joint pain has told how she is now into her third year of waiting for an appointment to see a specialist.

Betty Farnham (73), from Clonshaugh, has letters from Beaumont Hospital, which told her in May 2015 that an appointment might take 12 to 14 months - which would have meant May to July 2016.

When there was no appointment supplied by that date, Betty wrote to local Fianna Fail TD Sean Haughey, who made enquiries on her behalf.

He received a letter from the RCSI Hospitals group, which includes Beaumont, in November 2016. In it, he was told that it was estimated Betty would receive an appointment in July 2017.

That date came and went without an appointment.

Pain

However, in a letter before Christmas, Betty was told it could be May this year before she finally gets to sit down with an orthopaedic surgeon.

Betty, who has twice overcome cancer, is suffering from debilitating pain in her left knee, walks with the aid of a stick and is on regular painkillers.

"I just can't understand it. The health system is getting worse and the delays are getting longer," said Betty.

"There are thousands of others out there like me and worse, and I want to speak out on their behalf too.

"This delay is just to get to see a doctor. God knows what delay there will then be between consultation and any treatment."

Widow Betty has had a medical card since 1982. She suffered two bouts of cancer in 1988 and 2002 and is on medication for other illnesses.

She thinks she may need a knee replacement, a common surgery.

Betty's doctor has written to Beaumont explaining that an MRI scan has shown she is suffering from "severe degenerative change [in her knee] and experiences significant levels of pain in her day-to-day life".

"I'm not getting any explanation or notice that the waiting time is getting longer and longer unless I write and ask what the delay is," said Betty.

"I don't want to be a prisoner in my home. I used to love going into town and being able to socialise, but the pain is too much now."

Beaumont said it cannot comment on individual cases due to patient confidentiality.

"If patients or their families have concerns about care received in Beaumont, they are advised to contact the hospital's Patient Advisory Liaison Service," said a spokeswoman.

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