Grandmother to spend Christmas in pain after routine hip operation is delayed

David and Evelyn Pithers, pictured in their home on Frambury Lane, Newport.

David and Evelyn Pithers, pictured in their home on Frambury Lane, Newport. - Credit: Archant

A grandmother in desperate need of a hip operation will spend Christmas “in constant pain”, after experiencing a number of delays and disappointments.

Evelyn Pithers, 76, who has lived in Newport for 40 years with husband David, 75, said the experience of trying to get the routine hip operation at Addenbrooke’s hospital in Cambridge had been “traumatic”.

“I am in constant pain the whole time but they don’t seem to take that into account,” said Evelyn, whose prosthetic hip of almost 19 years was scheduled for replacement on January 2, 2014.

On New Year’s Eve last year, just two days before the operation, the Pithers received a phone call that there were “others in greater need”, and the operation was pushed till January 28, when it was carried out at the hospital.

Rather than the full hip replacement that was originally planned, the hip socket was rebuilt and the operation appeared to have been successful.

But Evelyn’s hip dislocated again just over three months later, in May this year, as she was bending down to pull out a plug. At A&E they managed to reduce the dislocation, and said, again, that it had been successful.

A check-up six weeks later suggested all was in order, but in September, once more, Evelyn dislocated her hip when she was straightening the bath mat.

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When she arrived at Addenbrooke’s on a Sunday morning, there were no theatres available, and she had to wait until the early hours of Monday for the operation, which reduced the dislocation once more.

The nightmare is far from over. In November, Evelyn’s surgeon said she was now in need of a full hip operation – but no appointment has been officially scheduled and the couple is likely to have to wait until March 2015 at the earliest.

“It’s more than distressing,” said David.

“Evelyn doesn’t dare go out because she’s scared of falling over. We have no life – we’re at the end of our tether.”

David added there had been a further obstacle right at the outset, in October 2013, when the couple turned up for an appointment when the hospital should have known the relevant doctor was on leave.

“I’ve no confidence that they’ll operate soon,” said David. “We are just ordinary pensioners, and we can’t afford private healthcare. Privately, the operation would cost £13,000. That’s a lot of money for a couple of pensioners.”

The Pithers were keen to emphasise the skill and care they had received not only from their surgeon, but also from the staff at Addenbrooke’s and East of England Ambulance Service, which they said was “second to none”.

“It’s no criticism to staff, who are working under very difficult circumstances, but it is a mess,” David added.

A spokesman for Addenbrooke’s told the Reporter the hospital was unable to comment on individual cases but said: “The hospital has been at capacity, it’s been very, very busy for the last six months.

“We have seen a rise in A&E admissions, and the number of people coming to the hospital. More frail and elderly people are coming here.

“We apologise for the experience this patient feels she has had and urge her to contact the Patient Advice and Liason Service at Addenbrooke’s to try and sort this out.”