Former Harrogate Councillor reveals pain behind health 'postcode lottery'

Christine Hill has had to purchase a mobility scooter to be able to walk her dog, Zak.
Christine Hill has had to purchase a mobility scooter to be able to walk her dog, Zak.

A former Nidderdale councillor has criticised the health ‘postcode lottery’ in North Yorkshire which has ‘stopped her life’.

Christine Hill had a standard joint replacement operation in June 2014, after an accident caused her to develop arthritis in her left ankle.

But not long after the operation, problems ensued - intensive physiotherapy caused the issues with Christine’s left ankle to start again and after years of putting more pressure on the other foot, Christine now needed surgery on her right ankle too.

Christine had been referred back to Nuffield Hospital in York to discuss her options and the surgeon recommended that she have a new type of ankle joint replacement called an ‘infinity’ procedure.

The surgery was booked for October 4, but 12 days before she was due to go in, Christine got a phone call.

She said: “They were very short, it was cancelled and that was it. They asked me to make another appointment and that it would be an 18 week wait. When I saw him I asked why it had been cancelled and he said well it’s the cost. I said I’ll pay it and he said they won’t let you.

“It’s a postcode lottery.”

Despite offering to pay the difference between the standard procedure and the ‘infinity’ procedure at York, Christine will have to travel some 75 miles out of the county to receive the treatment she needs under the NHS.

Christine said: “For some people the standard procedure works, but for me it hasn’t. I don’t want my other ankle joint replaced that way again.

“19 percent fail within ten years - if I’m going to have another one done the same way I’m doubling my chances of failure.

“It stops your life, I have spent my life walking, I was a councillor for Lower Nidderdale for eight years, it was nice to get stuck in and help but I couldn’t possibly sit for re-election when I can’t even walk around the ward I represent.”

A spokesperson for Harrogate and Rural District Clinical Commissioning Group said: “The CCG is responsible for commissioning health care for its population.

"We would not comment on individual cases as we need to protect patient confidentiality however if patients have any concerns about their health care, we are happy to discuss difficulties directly with the individual involved.”