'Suffer in Silence' Victims backed

Councillor to tackle health chiefs over private bill

A leading local public representative took the plight of elderly people who “suffer in silence” to Stormont this week after vowing to force local health chiefs to cover the cost of her recent hip replacement surgery.

Castlereagh councillor and elderly rights campaigner Rosaleen Hughes this week stepped up her campaign for better treatment for the elderly by promising to send a £7,000 bill for hip replacement surgery to Stormont Health Minister Angela Smith.

The highly regarded councillor underwent vital surgery to replace a hip at a private clinic in South Belfast in June this year.

The SDLP councillor’s decision to go private came after months of agonising pain and discomfort while waiting for the operation on the National Health Service.

In April consultants at the Musgrave Park Hospital told the councillor she would have to wait up to 18 months for the essential surgery.

But the pain and distress of her debilitating condition became too much for the courageous councillor and she was forced to go private in order to receive prompt relief from the exhausting cycle of pain and pills.

“I intend sending the bill to the Minister for Health,” said the councillor.

“I am very fortunate that I was able to go private but not everybody will be able to do that. I spent my life working, paying insurance and making contributions, and I don’t think I should have had to wait for 18 months for treatment or been forced to pay for it. Nobody should have to wait that long.

“What I want to do is highlight the plight of the elderly and others who suffer in silence. They have to struggle through pain and sleepless nights as their predicament grows worse and nobody does anything. I want to take a stand and make the valid points and my priority is to those poor people lying at home in pain at the minute.”

Engage with Age project Development Worker with Stephen Gourley said he was aware that many elderly people experience difficulties with the health service.

“We try to support any older people we come into contact with,” said Stephen.

“We try to encourage people to come along to the various consultations that are being held by the local health trust in order to have their voice heard.”
A spokesperson for the Department of Health refused to comment on the Castlereagh councillor’s case.

The spokesperson did say that reducing waiting lists was a priority for the department.

Journalist:: Staff Reporter

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