Anger as MS patient waits months for new leg splint

The 10-plus year-old leg splint Joan Beck is using while she waits for her new splint to be fitted.
The 10-plus year-old leg splint Joan Beck is using while she waits for her new splint to be fitted.

Months after she was measured for a new leg splint a 78-year-old Lisburn woman is having to endure severe pain and discomfort while she waits to have it fitted.

That’s according to Janet Wickings, whose mother, Joan Beck, has suffered from Multiple Sclerosis for the better part of 30 years and needs the splint to support her left leg and ankle.

“Her new splint has been ready and waiting since the end of July,” said Aghalee woman Janet, “but her appointment to have it fitted wasn’t until December 21.”

In the meantime Joan has had ro resort to wearing a previous splint, now more than 10 years old.

Janet concedes Musgrave Park Hospital, which provides for a monthly orthotics clinic at Lisburn’s Lagan Valley Hospital, has since scheduled an earlier appointment, at the end of November, and made efforts to offer emergency appointments, but one, she said, coincided with the wedding of Joan’s grandson and she (Janet) was unable, with a hour and a half’s notice, to arrange transport for her mother to make the other.

“She now has another appointment for the end of November, but thats still not an acceptable time for her to have to wait,” said Janet. “My mum is left in so much pain and discomfort and if she goes anywhere she has to go in a wheelchair.

“She’s not one to complain, so when she’s telling me ‘I could cry with the pain’, I know it’s bad.

“I feel totally disgusted by this lack of service.”

Janet said she offered both to go herself to Musgrave Park hospital and pick up the splint and to pay for her mother to be seen earlier, but neither option was open to her.

“It’s just not fair on mum,” she said. “She’s been through so much; she’s had a hip replacement and two knee replacements.”

Lagan Valley MP Jeffrey Donaldson, among those who have sought to intervene on Joan’s behalf, said the matter was being pursued with both the South Eastern Health and Social Care Trust, which administers the Lagan Valley Hospital, and the Belfast H&SCT, which administers Musgrave Park.

“There is no doubt it is unacceptable that Joan should have to wait so long to have the proper equipment and care she undoubtedly needs,” he said, “ and we have raised her case on an urgent basis with the South Eastern Trust, requesting their intervention to provide the equipment and ensure Joan makes a good recovery.

“Joan is clearly not getting the care she needs from the Health Service at the moment and it is putting a lot of pressure on herself and her family.

“I hope the Trust will now respond promptly and provide Joan with what she needs.

“We have also raised the matter with the Belfast Trust, who are responsible for the provision of this specialist equipment through Musgrave Park Hospital, and asked them also for an explanation as to why it is taking so long.” A spokesman for the Belfast Trust, meanwhile, said: “Belfast Health and Social Care Trust are sorry any patient has to wait for an appointment.

“These clinics are run on a monthly basis by its specialist orthotics team.

“The Trust are in communication with the patient.”