THE PAIN clinic service delivered by Dorset County Hospital has come in for a fresh barrage of criticism.
Patients and hospital governors have hit out at the Dorset Primary Care Trust, which commissions the service, claiming people are still waiting too long for their pain relief injections.
Peter Watson has been battling for three years on behalf of his wife Judith, who suffers from chronic back pain, and calling on the PCT to improve the service.
He said it is ‘unacceptable’ that patients can still wait up for a year between injections and his wife has been told she may have a 13 month wait between hers.
Mr Watson spoke out about the service at the Dorset County Hospital NHS Foundation Trust annual members meeting.
Governor Michel Hooper-Immins said that patients were still feeling let down by the pain service.
He said: “It is clear that not all is well within the pain clinic. Those who live their lived in constant pain are becoming penalised by delays and these delays are becoming institutionalised.”
Fellow patient governor Derek Julian said: “These patients have been treated shamefully.”
The hospital’s director of operations Patricia Miller said that the hospital was delivering the service it been commissioned to carry out by the PCT, with no patients more than six months overdue.
Mr Watson said: “I was really surprised to hear them say that the PCT commissioned DCH to provide injections up to six months overdue.
“They consider that it’s acceptable for patients to receive injections up to a year after their previous injections.
“I don’t think that’s acceptable, I don’t think patients who have chronic, constant, debilitating pain should have to wait a year.”
Mr Watson added that he had concerns about the new community-based pain service that will come into force next year, particularly regarding the consultation process behind it.
He said: “I’m very concerned about the public consultation exercise that the PCT undertook for the new service.”
Mr Watson has been in contact with West Dorset MP Oliver Letwin over the issue and said he has written a further letter setting out his latest concerns.
He stressed that he had nothing but praise for the quality of the service, the problem was getting access to it.
Mr Watson said: “The service you get is exceptional, all the nurses and clinicians are marvellous. The problem is getting that service.”
A spokesman for NHS Dorset said it was doing all it can do reduce waiting times for patients of the pain clinic.
The spokesman said: “NHS Dorset is continuing to work with clinicians to enable all patients to be seen at their due time.
“Extra lists have been commissioned throughout the year to bring waiting times down with currently the vast majority of patients waiting no longer than four months past their due date.”
In relation to the proposed new pain service, the spokesman added: “The new service has taken into account feedback from patients; once the new provider is in place we will continue to work with patients to ensure the service meets their requirements. Information will be made available to all patients as appropriate.”