A man living in permanent pain and left virtually housebound by arthritis who had his hip operation cancelled due to the pandemic has said he cannot see how the mounting NHS waiting list backlog will be sorted.
Chris Bulteel was diagnosed with arthritis in his right hip in 2018 and was due to have a hip replacement in March 2020 but the operation was cancelled due to the coronavirus outbreak.
He told the PA news agency that although he had been told he would be top of the list for another operation he said he was later taken off the waiting list and does not know when he will receive the vital surgery.
The 71-year-old from Dorset added: “While I have got a supportive family who make my life a lot easier – I couldn’t cope on my own – I worry about all those people who are on their own.
“I am in permanent pain, it’s quite severe at times.
“It’s there all the time in the background. I have to have a chair that lifts me up in the air, it really is a struggle to get around on two crutches.
“It’s getting gradually worse and I can see a time coming up when I won’t be able to walk at all.”
Mr Bulteel, who said he is supported by his wife Angela and his daughter Sarah and her partner, said that he understood the need to cancel surgery due to the pandemic.
But he said he just wanted to know when he could have the operation.
“I used to be on the top but now I’m not on it at all.”
Mr Bulteel said he has only left his flat twice since March for hospital appointments, cannot shower unaided or get down the steps to his garden and is on medication for the pain.
He also said he worries he will not be able to get the coronavirus vaccine because he won’t be able to get to a vaccination centre.
Mr Bulteel added: “I haven’t been out since March, except for two visits to the hospital.
“I am lucky I live in a ground floor flat and have a garden to look out into but I can’t even get out because there’s a step I can’t negotiate.
“I’m also worried I can’t have the vaccine when the time comes because I can’t get to any vaccination centre.”
Mr Bulteel said he had taken up writing but he now cannot sit at his computer for more than 10 minutes.
He said the operation “would mean an awful lot” to him and his family and added: “I know I’m not a burden but you feel you are.”
Tracey Loftis, head of policy and public affairs at the charity Versus Arthritis said delays to treatment can lead to “serious physical and mental health implications”.
She added: “Delays to planned treatment can lead to serious physical and mental health implications, especially for those with arthritis who have debilitating pain or limited mobility.
“Whilst it is understandable that operations are cancelled at this time, thousands of people are having to endure longer periods of pain.
“People waiting for joint replacement surgery urgently need clear communication about their care, and support including advice on pain management and mental health and wellbeing.”