A retired railway worker took his own life to bring an end to months of chronic agony following a knee replacement surgery, a court has heard.

Julian Pryer was 84 years old when he was found unresponsive in his home having taken a fatal overdose of prescription medication.

His death came just days after being told he would be facing an eight-month wait for a pain clinic to treat his crippling agony.

Norfolk Coroner's Court heard Mr Pryer, of Lingwood, underwent a full replacement of his right knee at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital in January 2023.

While the operation was judged to have been successful medically, the months that followed saw him living in constant pain.

The court heard he had lived an active life until the operation, enjoying travelling, visiting family overseas and attending services at Norwich's Roman Catholic cathedral.

But his family said he was left to feel his complaints were not being taken seriously enough to begin with - resulting in a deterioration of his mental health.

The court heard he was in regular contact with his GP about his pain, which made referrals to the orthopaedic team at the NNUH.

This resulted in him undergoing scans to try and ascertain the cause of his pain, which revealed he had suffered a large tear in his quad and had spinal issues.

But once he had eventually been referred to the pain clinic at the hospital he was told he would face a wait of eight months to be seen.

Eastern Daily Press: Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital.

Meanwhile, the court also heard his GP had referred him to mental health services after his daughter raised concerns he was considering taking a medication overdose.

But the Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust declined the referral after assessing him, due to his mental health struggles being connected to his physical pain.

Dr Hans de Vrijer, of Brundall Medical Practice, said: "It appears that the lack of a holistic approach in secondary care left him in a situation where he felt hopeless."

On August 14, he was found unresponsive in his home in Station Road, Lingwood - just days after being warned of an eight-month wait for panic clinic treatment.

He had left a note in an envelope to his loved ones explaining his intention.

Jacqueline Lake, senior coroner for Norfolk, concluded that his death was suicide.


Eastern Daily Press:

Following the inquest, members of his family told of their heartache at watching him struggle in the final months of his life.

Cheryl Pryer, one of his daughters, said: "It was very frustrating to see the pain he was in - 24/7. It changed his character completely and he wasn't like my dad any more.

"Before this, he loved to travel abroad and was very independent.

"All he really needed was hope and the system didn't give him any. There needs to be a more holistic approach to care."

Mr Pryer was born in India as one of eight siblings - and was his parents' only son.

He went on to have three children of his own, also leaving nine grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.


The court heard that patients at the N&N continue to be blighted by lengthy waits to address chronic pain.

Katherine Dyer, lead nurse of the pain management team, said the department was facing a constant challenge to recruit new staff and continued to work with open vacancies.

As a result, some patients have previously faced waits of almost two years for treatment.

She said: "Nationally, there is an unprecedented level of demand and our referral rate continues to increase."

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