Teen's three-year hospital wait slashed to two weeks but family forced to seek private help
A 16-year-old boy given a near three-year wait for a hospital appointment will now be seen in two weeks – after his grandparents stepped in to pay for a private consultation.
The boy had been referred for a urology appointment at Shrewsbury & Telford Hospital NHS Trust by his GP, but his father said they had been stunned to find out he would not be seen until June 2025 – a wait of 951 days.
Now the father has revealed that while unable to pay for the appointment himself, the boy's grandparents have offered to pay £250 for a private consultation, which will take place on December 7.
He said that they were extremely grateful but added that similar situations would force more people to seek private care – with some not able to afford it.
He added that the family had been advised that his son's condition, while not life threatening, may require surgery – opening up more potential issues with waiting lists.
The boy's father said he understood the NHS was facing a range of issues, none of which are easy to solve, but said that it was depressing to see the difference in the waiting time for the private consultation.
"I do have a degree of sympathy for the government," he said. "The NHS is a monolithic structure that has obviously got inherent weaknesses and inefficiencies, and it is difficult to manage a system that has the fifth largest work force in the world, I believe.
"With an ageing population and the demands that has on the system, combined and compounded by the social care system with bed blocking, and then compounded by Brexit and the European staff that used to staff the service that no longer do, further compounded by Covid and the additional pressures, I do have a degree of sympathy with whoever is responsible for the NHS – I cannot imagine a new government coming in tomorrow could simply wave a magic wand to solve the problems of the NHS.
"But for ordinary folks in a cost of living crisis, even on an average wage, when they encounter a health care problem and are given an option of an initial consultancy years down the line, then the private option to turn that two and a half year wait into a two and a half week wait, it is depressing."
He added that he doubted they would be able to afford private treatment following the consultation, even with help from other members of the family – with the costs likely to stretch to the thousands.
He said: "This is just an initial consultation to look at what the problem is. The GP has said it could be a surgical remedy which privately would cost thousands."
Following the report detailing the wait encountered by the family, another Shropshire man, Andrew Jones, 61, came forward to say he had also received an appointment for the same date.
The situation has been described as "appalling" by local health campaigner Gill George, of Shropshire Defend Our NHS, who said the trust leaders should "hang their heads in shame".
In a statement Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust (SaTH), apologised for the situation and said it was working with other healthcare providers to try and reduce the current wait times.
Sheila Fryer, Interim Deputy Chief Operating Officer, said: "We recognise that the current waits are not acceptable.”