A disabled grandfather has to wait two years for surgery on a sore that leaves him bedridden for up to 18 hours a day. Danny Sullivan says he has no idea when he will finally be called up for his highly anticipated surgery.
The 75-year-old from Kings Heath in Birmingham says the pain has seriously affected his quality of life and will require him to stay in bed for hours to prevent it from getting worse. Mr Sullivan is paralyzed from the waist down after being injured in a car accident and using a wheelchair.
He says he feels it’s “a total waste of his life right now” and that a date for surgery would at least give him “something to hold onto.” His surgery was originally scheduled for April 2020 but had to be canceled as frontline NHS staff battled rising Covid cases. But more than two years later, he is still waiting.
Community nurses visit him every day at his ground floor apartment, where he lives alone, to change his bandages while he continues to await treatment at Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Birmingham. The father of three says he sees “no light at the end of the tunnel” and while he understands that others need more urgent care than he does, he admits the long delay has left him feeling hopeless.
The NHS trust that runs the hospital has apologized to patients who have waited for treatment and says it is doing everything it can to address the treatment backlog. Mr Sullivan said: “I had the pre-surgery. Three days before the surgery, I got an email to say it had been cancelled. That was pretty much the beginning of Covid and I’ve been waiting ever since.
“Every day the district nurses come and dress it. I spend 16 to 18 hours in bed to get rid of the wound, otherwise it would get worse, which is annoying. It has definitely changed my life. One of the disadvantages of being a spinal cord injury is you sit all the time so you are prone to pressure ulcers this is one that has gone bad its been like this for about four years the first surgery didnt go very well so they rescheduled it and I’ve been waiting for two years now.”
It has had a dramatic impact on his quality of life. “The only people I see most days are the district nurses, but I see my son and grandchildren about once a week,” Sullivan said. “I haven’t been able to go on vacation for the better part of three years. I haven’t been able to stay overnight because the district nurses come every day. It’s just annoying.
He said: “I have my next appointment with my attending surgeon in November, but it doesn’t give me much confidence. I call his secretary about once every six months and I get the same answer. The priority is with cancer patients, of course, heart patients, emergency surgeries. You don’t come in to have surgery unless, she told me, you get severely infected and come in as an emergency. And I don’t really want to get seriously infected and come in as an emergency!”
He added: “The worst part is that you have nothing to look forward to. You don’t have a date. If you had something to cling to, it would make life more bearable.” When asked if he had any idea when he would be treated, he replied: “Absolutely none. There seems to be no light at the end of the tunnel.” He continued: “This probably affects millions of people. Everyone else is probably in the same boat. It would be nice to just say something, ‘Your turn will come’. It frustrates me.”
University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Trust, which manages the QE, said the “demands have never been higher” and that it “works very hard to look after patients”. A spokesperson said: “We are sorry that we have had to cancel or reschedule a procedure due to the demands on our services, these demands have never been higher. The impact of Covid on our capacity, both in terms of patients receiving care need, or personnel unavailable due to isolation, was felt very strongly during the early months of the year during this most recent wave of virus.
“We are working very hard to care for patients in the face of this ongoing pressure, by creating additional ward and surgical capacity at all our hospital locations, recruiting additional staff and introducing new treatment routes to help us get back on track.” come.”
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