Aneurysm woman spends £47,000 on private visits due to NHS delay

Patients with serious medical conditions are considering going private to avoid long NHS queues. (Getty Images)

A 61-year-old woman, who is likely to die if her aneurysm ruptures, has resorted to paying for private healthcare because the NHS is unable to treat her condition as an emergency.

Faced with a potentially life-or-death situation, she has decided to spend the £47,000 taken from her inheritance advance on her private life and is due to undergo open-heart surgery in a few weeks.

Calling Labor MP David Lammy’s program on LBC Radio, a patient named Kate said it was “worrying” that the NHS was not treating aortic aneurysms – a balloon-like bulge in the aorta – as a matter of urgency.

She said if they rupture, patients could have an 80% chance of dying, especially if they don’t get to the hospital in time.

“I live in rural Wales so the nearest hospital for me would be in Birmingham so I don’t think I have any chance. I’m not being dramatic, I’m being really honest with you,” Kate said.

“It severely limits my life because I am not allowed to walk up steep hills. I had to stop a lot of things that I would normally do, normally I’m quite active.”

Read more: The crisis in the emergency department cannot be blamed on a pandemic – warns the senior medic

View of ambulances parked along the street as ambulance workers strike, during a pay dispute with the government, near the NHS London Ambulance Service, London, UK December 21, 2022. REUTERS/Henry Nicholls

The NHS is facing long ambulance waits, delays in A&E and a shortage of hospital beds. (Reuters)

Luckily for Kate, she got a lifeline after her father sold his house in the summer and invested the money in an inheritance pot for her and her brother.

She was offered some money up front and decided to spend £47,000 on the operation. She said if she had been stuck in the NHS she would have waited around 39 weeks from November.

“I feel happy to be honest with you, but I am very concerned about people who are not in my position,” she told LBC.

Read more: ‘I can’t help it that COVID has happened,’ says Rishi Sunak as NHS faces record delays

“For a life-threatening condition, they call it elective surgery, the only time it becomes urgent is a rupture or a cut, and then there’s a risk of death.”

Lammy also spoke to a 52-year-old woman who has been waiting nine months for what her doctor described as an “urgent” hysterectomy.

Watch: Rishi Sunak repeatedly refuses to reveal whether he or his family is enrolled in a private GP

The caller, Dianne, said she now expects to wait at least until this summer for surgery, but in the meantime she is in “constant” pain.

“There is no comfortable position, I have been sleeping in a chair for many weeks because lying down is painful,” she said.

“There are only so many painkillers you can take. In addition to the pain you feel, you are constantly tired, you feel very uncomfortable because your stomach is very swollen.

“You feel terrible, you can’t eat properly because you feel full all the time, if you have something to eat, you have indigestion.”

It comes as the NHS faces an unprecedented winter crisis, with people facing long waits for A&E services while patients wait in ambulances as there are not enough beds in hospitals.

Read more: NHS staff ‘could get pay rise if they accept radical reforms’

Nearly half a million people in the UK have taken out private health insurance in the last year, according to The Telegraph, which could be a sign of declining trust in healthcare.

After meeting with health leaders, Rishi Sunak said he had a “renewed sense of confidence and optimism” that the NHS could tackle the current challenges.

But when asked, he declined to say whether he and his family were registered with a private GP.

“As a rule, I wouldn’t talk about me or my family’s health situation,” he told the BBC’s Sunday With Laura Kuenssberg programme.

“It’s a distraction from what the real problem is, which is are we making sure quality healthcare is available in the country?”

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