Norwich teacher’s fears over hospital wait
06:30 17 July 2012
A hospital has apologised to a teacher with an eye condition which caused his sight to deteriorate rapidly, after he was initially told he would not be seen for 13 weeks.
Laurence Cross is struggling to see out of one of his eyes due to a mystery condition which leaves it very sore, watery and stinging.
The 38-year-old went to see his optician first, and was given some antibiotic eye drops and told to return in a couple of weeks.
When he went back, Mr Cross said his optician was horrified to measure the deterioration in that eye, and recommended he see a hospital specialists as a matter of urgency.
However, Mr Cross said that after being referred by his GP, five or six weeks passed and he then received a letter from the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital telling him he would have to wait 13 weeks before being seen.
He said: “I was told there was a real need for urgency with this and I sometimes have to walk around with one eye shut.”
He has now been told by the hospital that his referral was only received on June 29, and that urgent cases like his would be seen within four weeks.
A hospital spokeswoman said: “We have contacted Mr Cross to confirm these arrangements and apologise for any confusion. If patients are concerned about their appointments or feel they need treatment more quickly, they can contact our Patient Advice and Liaison Service on 01603 289036.”
Mr Cross, who teaches at a Norwich school and lives in New Costessey, contacted the Evening News with his concerns over the waiting list after reading how in April only 82.3pc of trauma and orthopaedics patients at the N&N were being treated within the 18-week NHS target, compared to the operational standard of 92pc.
When grandmother-of-four Julia Bradbury was told in March that her wait for a new hip at the N&N would be six to eight months, she decided to pay for it to be carried out privately at the same hospital, at a cost of £10,500.
The 77-year-old, from Diss, said: “I was already taking the maximum pain relief of eight paracetamol per day and really could not carry on. I asked if there were any alternatives which would be quicker and was told ‘no’. So I decided that I would pay privately for the treatment.”
She has made an official complaint to the hospital about the time she was expected to wait and says she wishes she was warned by her GP about the long wait when she was first referred last December, so she could have arranged to have the private operation months earlier.
N&N medical director professor Krishna Sethia said: “We are sorry that Mrs Blackburn could not be treated at an earlier date. We fully appreciate that patients wish to be seen promptly and we are working hard to bring down waiting times in all specialties. The waiting time for hip replacements in Norwich is falling and we are confident that the hard work of all our staff will result in further improvement.”