Man in hip pain every day finally gets appointment

LONG WAIT: Harry Murtagh has finally got an appointment to see a surgeon about his painful hips.
LONG WAIT: Harry Murtagh has finally got an appointment to see a surgeon about his painful hips.

At the end of last year Harry Murtagh received a letter from Taranaki District Health Board saying he didn't qualify for a hip replacement.

But the letter arrived 10 days before he was scheduled to have an X-ray to check the condition of his hips, he said. "They hadn't seen the X-ray. How could they send a letter like that?"

He went straight back to his GP with a letter his family helped him write, saying he had no quality of life and suffered pain every day.

His GP wrote another letter to the hospital and in January Mr Murtagh got another reply from the DHB this time saying he was classed as semi-urgent and would see a surgeon within five months.

Yesterday he was notified that he had an appointment at the end of next month.

And while he is relieved that progress is being made he is not holding his breath he will get the operation, he said, because he has been down this path before.

At the end of 2012 a surgeon told him he needed his hips replaced sooner rather than later, but after a visit to the hospital physio he was told he didn't meet the threshold.

It was "bloody shocking" his hips had to get so much worse before he got to see another surgeon, Mr Murtagh said.

In 2012 his hips were painful, but he could still do his shoes up.

"Now, my wife has to put my socks on and if I wear lace-up shoes, she has to lace them up. We've even changed vehicles. Gone from a car to a Rav4 that I can get in and out of easier. Both hips are aching."

Last year he went to Palmerston North to have radiation treatment for prostate cancer, which was now in remission, he said. "I had to have a CT scan down there and the girls said ‘both your hips are buggered'. I didn't even tell them about it."

There were probably people worse than him who couldn't get an operation, he said.

"How bad do you have to get before they do something?"

Taranaki DHB clinical services manager Lee McManus said the DHB responded to all customer complaints promptly and continued to work hard to ensure patients concerns were answered appropriately.

"We have not received a customer complaint formally around this issue until the Daily News contacted us today, but we will investigate this in the following days and get back to Mr Murtagh."

Taranaki Daily News