Nadine Helsdown said she was ‘in agony’ when she went to see her GP, Dr Jo Martyr, at the Park Practice in Broadwater Way.
The doctor referred her patient immediately to the rheumatology specialist at the EDGH. But Nadine, from Knoll Road, was horrified when a letter arrived at her home telling her the clinic had a 30-week waiting list.
She said, “This means I won’t be able to be seen until next year. I don’t know what to do until then. The pain is terrible.”
EDGH chief operating officer Richard Sunley said, “It is certainly not our intention to cause any of our patients distress. We are continuing to experience an increase in the number of rheumatology referrals we receive. In addition, one of our consultant rheumatologists has recently retired which has affected our waiting times in this specialty.
“We have vigorously advertised for a replacement but disappointingly, to date, we have been unsuccessful in fulfilling this position.
“We have also tried a number of times to obtain services of an agency locum consultant but without success. “We have been looking at other ways of providing this service as we have been unable to recruit either a substantive or locum consultant.
“One of the options has been to recruit a new specialist rheumatology nurse to help with specific patients. We have also been working closely with our commissioners in relation to alternative providers of rheumatology within other hospitals but, unfortunately, none have been identified.
“We continue to look for additional support in other areas to improve and alleviate our waiting times. We would like to assure patients we are doing everything we possibly can in exploring every potential avenue available to us in finding a consultant to fill our vacant position. If Mrs Helsdown has concerns she should contact her GP.”