Panorama episode NHS: Wait or Pay detailing the stories of those on the NHS waiting list provoked a strong emotional response from viewers, as a mum tried to raise money for her son’s medical procedure.
The Kildea family from Strabane in Northern Ireland needed £50,000 to fly their 12-year-old son Hayden to Turkey for surgery on his back, which he would have to wait two years for at home.
Hayden had been diagnosed with severe scoliosis, where the spine twists and bends to one side. His mum shared her concern that if the condition gets worse it would ‘interefere’ with his organs.
Their story comes as crowd funding site GoFundMe has seen an increase in campaigns that mention ‘NHS waiting list’.
His mum said: ‘It’s frustrating that we’re in our own country and we can’t get him the surgery that he needs.
‘I have to travel all over the world with Hayden during Covid, so there’s a lot of anxiety and worry about doing that.’
The programme showed Hayden and his mum receiving donations from local businesses who wanted to help out.
Hayden’s story left viewers upset, with one commenting on Twitter: ‘As one of the women waiting for surgery that’s looking years away I’m so sad for all the people waiting. I even have pain in my dreams.’
‘Friends have offered to crowd fund for me but they shouldn’t have to as our #NHS already contributed to by everyone,’ another said.
Read another tweet: ‘Watching #Panorama – my heart goes out to each and every one of you waiting for surgery,’ as another fumed: ‘Obscene people are having to turn to GoFundMe when UK once had a universal, cradle to grave health service.’
One viewer said: ‘Absolutely heartbreaking watching #PANORAMA so many people in terrible pain on ever extending waiting lists.’
Northern Ireland Health and Social Care board responded, telling Panorama that ‘before the pandemic, the number of people waiting longer than the target waiting times was increasing’.
It added it has a ‘five year plan’ to tackle backlog and additional funding has been confirmed to help reduce the wait time for critical surgical treatments including scoliosis.
Hayden’s family managed to raised the £50k they needed, and he was flown out to Turkey for the surgery.
His mum added: ‘We were basically begging off people, begging for them to help you get your child surgery that they should be able to get here. We shouldn’t have to so it’s infuriating.’
Leading NHS figures and health observers have regularly raised fears that inequalities across healthcare have deepened significantly amid the Covid-19 crisis.
Despite the efforts of NHS staff during the pandemic, the backlog has grown to 5.61 million people – almost one in every 10 people in England.
An NHS spokesperson said: ‘While the pandemic inevitably had an impact on non-urgent care, NHS staff made effective use of additional resource – almost halving average waiting times for elective care over the last year.
‘Expert clinicians continue to prioritise patients with the greatest clinical need and hospitals should ensure that a point of contact is available to those waiting for treatment, including through Patient Advice and Liaison Services.’
Panorama is available on BBC iPlayer.
Credit: Original article published here.