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Grandmother to finally undergo operation after hospital's financial troubles

PUBLISHED: 13:31 12 January 2020 | UPDATED: 09:57 13 January 2020

Dereham grandmother Betty Battelley was one of 131 patients whose surgery was cancelled after Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital ran out of private sector funding. Picture: Archant

Dereham grandmother Betty Battelley was one of 131 patients whose surgery was cancelled after Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital ran out of private sector funding. Picture: Archant

Archant © 2018

An 81-year-old left unable to walk when her hospital ran out of money has finally been told her surgery will take place on an 'urgent' basis.

Dereham grandmother Betty Battelley, pictured with her husband Barry, was one of 131 patients whose surgery was cancelled by NNUH. Picture: ArchantDereham grandmother Betty Battelley, pictured with her husband Barry, was one of 131 patients whose surgery was cancelled by NNUH. Picture: Archant

Betty Battelley, from Dereham, had been due to undergo a replacement hip operation on November 30 at Spire Norwich Hospital, having been referred by Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital (NNUH).

But just two weeks prior, the grandmother received a phone call from NNUH saying the operation had been cancelled, before the hospital admitted it couldn't afford private referrals for the remainder of 2019/20.

As one of 131 patients whose scheduled operations and treatment were postponed, Mrs Battelley was placed on a general waiting list and faced an additional nine months of "awful pain".

Two months later she has been placed on an 'urgent' list, meaning her surgery should take place in the next two to three months.

Hospitals refer patients to private hospitals, such as Spire Norwich Hospital, to meet government waiting list targets. Picture: Spire Norwich HospitalHospitals refer patients to private hospitals, such as Spire Norwich Hospital, to meet government waiting list targets. Picture: Spire Norwich Hospital

"I've been to see my consultant this week who told me the operation has been on an urgent waiting list," said Mrs Battelley. "They've said I could potentially have my operation in the next couple of months.

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"My consultant and others have been doing their best to sort it out, and I feel so sorry for them because it is not their fault - it's beyond their control.

"I'm coping, but if anything I'm a bit worse than I was before. I'm still struggling to walk and having to use a wheelchair, and until the operation happens I won't get any better."

For several years hospitals have referred patients to private hospitals, such as Spire, in order to meet government waiting list targets.

But by November the NNUH's private sector cash pot had already run dry, forcing it to postpone more than a hundred referrals.

Mrs Battelley's operation could either take place at NNUH or Spire and, despite having to wait longer than anticipated, Mrs Battelley is grateful she will soon be on the road to recovery.

"You just have to accept these things in the end and get on with life as best you can," she added. "I know some people wouldn't be able to cope, but I am managing.

"I've told my consultant I don't care where it is, so long as I have it done."

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