Patient's x-ray fight after fractures

A Norfolk man accused the NHS last night of taking risks with people's health in a bid to save money. Robert Armitage, who is to have an operation that will leave him disabled after his broken ankle did not mend properly, said scans should be carried out when a plaster cast is removed to check bones are aligned.

A Norfolk man has accused the NHS of taking risks with people's health in a bid to save money.

Robert Armitage, who is to have an operation that will leave him disabled after his broken ankle did not mend properly, said scans should be carried out when a plaster cast is removed to check bones are aligned.

He vowed on Wednesday to take his fight to the government to have the procedure made routine, which he said would have flagged up the problem with his leg before it was too late, and will save others from being crippled.

The 40-year-old, who also faces homelessness as the bank is repossessing his cottage at Halvergate, Yarmouth, as he has not been able to pay the mortgage due to being off work for the past 17 months, said his life was in tatters.

“I am going to be on the streets and disabled and all because a simple scan was not done,” he said.

He is planning to take legal action against the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital where he had the plaster cast removed, and which he said did not fulfil its duty of care.

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He requested a scan when the cast was taken off, as he said his ankle, which he broke falling off a step ladder, did not look or feel right, but was told it was not a procedure they would carry out.

The N&N said the policy not to carry out routine x-rays on broken bones to check they were mending correctly was made on safety grounds at a national level.

In a letter to Mr Armitage, Paul Fordon, the chief executive of the N&N, said the NHS had been criticised in the past for, “performing too many x-rays exposing patients, staff and the environment to excessive amounts of radiation”.

A spokesperson for the N&N responded to Mr Armitage's claims last night that private health care company Bupa scans breaks when a cast is removed, saying Bupa was in a different position to the NHS as it had funds to perform additional x-rays.

The comments prompted speculation that the real reason the NHS did not carry out additional scans was a lack of money.

Mr Armitage said: “I really believe this is a cost cutting exercise. They are taking a huge risk with people's health. I don't think radiation is a proper answer. How much radiation is really exposed to the environment in the couple of seconds it takes to do an x-ray?

“If they had done the scan I would not be looking at a problem that is going to be life changing,” he said.

Mr Armitage must have an operation to fuse his bones together which will leave him hobbling with a stick, unable to move his ankle.

A spokesperson for the N&N said the problem with Mr Armitage's break came from the failure of the fracture to unite, rather than from any decision not to perform an x-ray, saying: “The decision as to whether or not a further scan is carried out is at the discretion of the doctors concerned in each individual case.”