Life's a pain for teen sidelined by ACC

HELEN HARVEY
Last updated 05:00 25/07/2014
Jesse Stewart
ANDY JACKSON / Fairfax NZ
FEELING DOWN: Jesse Stewart has had to give up playing sport since a rugby injury left him with a problem in his hip.

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Jesse Stewart, 16, was injured playing rugby and two years later he is in still constant pain.

A lock, Jesse was lifting a team-mate in a lineout when he injured his hip. "I can barely walk. I can get around and stuff, but just walk when I have too."

The pain sometimes keeps him awake at night, he said.

"It's annoying because I can't do anything. All my friends are doing stuff like sport and I just have to stay at home."

Jesse, who lives in Inglewood, has a labral tear, and private orthopaedic surgeon Julian Stoddart recommends surgery.

But ACC won't pay and the Taranaki DHB said the "priority level" given to Jesse is below the level at which they can "offer an assessment."

Mum Ann Stewart has had a similar injury and had surgery last year.

"I was quite happy to give Jesse my place, but they said no, I couldn't do that. I would give anything to have Jesse back on track again. I don't know where to go from here. It feels like a dead end."

The family's doctor has sent about six letters to the Taranaki DHB, but they keep getting the same answer.

"It's just ludicrous."

Jesse is getting pretty down, she said. He has put on 20kg because he is unable to do any sport or exercise.

To have the operation done privately would cost between $18,000 to 20,000, she said.

"If we could borrow it we would. And we don't have that kind of equity in our house."

Dad Greg Stewart said ACC turned down their claim because Jesse has a bump or a "bone spur" on his hip that may cause him problems in the future.

"But the labral tear has nothing to do with that."

ACC spokeswoman Stephanie Melville said Jesse has ACC cover for the hip bruising caused by the rugby accident.

"ACC was unable to approve his request for surgery for a labral tear in his hip because the medical evidence we received at the time indicated this was a pre-existing condition which predated his covered injury."

ACC was always prepared to consider a new surgical request when new medical information is available and she recommended Jesse submit a new surgical request for consideration.

Stoddart said a labral tear was a tear of the soft ring of cartilage that attaches to the margin of the hip socket.

"Jesse does not have a life-threatening condition but has a quality-of-life-threatening condition."

There was also a risk of arthritis, he said.

"It is hoped that by correcting this condition at an early age we can prevent arthritis developing."

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Taranaki DHB clinical services manager for surgical and hospital services management Lee McManus said all patients referred for assessment were clinically prioritised and the patients with the highest level of need were offered an appointment.

"We are always willing to discuss individual cases with patients and their families and have done so with Jesse and his family."

- Taranaki Daily News

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