Woman criticises health board over 'ridiculous' knee treatment
A woman with chronic knee problems has criticised health bosses after being made to have her left one treated by a specialist but the right one by doctors 50 miles away.
Jackie Sayce has suffered with major problems in her left knee ever since she collided with her father's lawnmower in a freak accident when she was three years old.
For the past 15 years the university manager, who has had 40 operations and a knee replacement, has been seen by a specialist consultant at Llandough Hospital near Cardiff.
And when Ms Sayce began experiencing problems with her right knee because of over-compensation she thought she would be treated at the same unit.
However, the 40-year-old, who lives in Aberystwyth, said she was surprised after being told her right knee would be treated closer to home in Prince Philip Hospital, Llanelli.
Ms Sayce said: "It's absolutely ridiculous.
"You would think that they would take a holistic approach - because the problems from right knee and hip have been a knock on effect because of the problems with my left one.
"All my treatment, which stems from one condition, should be dealt with by the same team.
"I have never minded travelling the extra distance to Llandough because I know I'm getting the best care possible.
"I can't see how being seen by two different health boards will save the health service any money."
Ms Sayce said the saga first began three years ago when she began experiencing hip problems.
"I mentioned it to my consultant in Llandough and he said he would refer me to a specialist at the same hospital. However my local health board Hywel Dda blocked the request and they wanted me seen closer to home," she added.
"That initially wasn't a problem, but then I began having problems with my right knee because I was overcompensating for the other.
"I cannot afford for my right knee to end up as bad as my left - so I asked to be referred for that treatment with my specialist near Cardiff.
"But after months of waiting nothing happened - and then I was told they had lost the paperwork."
And Ms Sayce says trying to resolve the matter has "proved impossible" due to red-tape and countless calls involving automated telephone systems.
She said: "The situation worries me because I'm a capable and able person - but there are elderly people out there who are not."
She said she has since written a letter to Wales' Health Minister Mark Drakeford and plans to grill First Minister Carwyn Jones during his upcoming visit to Aberystwyth University.
Her local Assembly Member Elin Jones said the situation was clearly unacceptable.
"This is a clear illustration of how a system based on health board boundaries can fail completely to deal with individuals requiring specialist treatment," she said. "These kinds of barriers need to be removed from our NHS."
Hywel Dda Health Board said it regretted hearing of "any negative patient experience".
Executive director Kathryn Davies said: "While we are unable to comment on individual patients through the media, it is sometimes necessary and in the best clinical interests of patients, to be referred to specialist centres for their treatment.
"Equally, the health board has some excellent services that can be delivered closer to home for non-hyper specialist conditions, which can sometimes result in an individual receiving elements of their care from different health boards.
"We have agreed to review and amend our cross boundary referral policy to ensure we minimise any delay in referrals between different providers and do not disadvantage our patients."