Woman's anger at long trek for clinic.
Byline: TONY EARNSHAW firstname.lastname@example.org @@Examiner
ANDREA Thwaites feels excruciating pain with every step she takes. The 54-year-old mum, a former army nurse who is now registered disabled, suffers from acute arthritis, fibromyalgia, which causes pain all over the body, and is diabetic.
What should be a five-minute trip to the shop - using two walking sticks - takes her three times longer than an able-bodied person.
And sitting down on a long journey is agony.
So why is she being told to make a 40-mile round trip to Barnsley for pain assessment sessions that previously took place in Halifax - with no patient transport provided? Andrea, who had to give up work four years ago, lives in a speciallyadapted house in Bradley complete with stairlift and wet room. She says any person referred for pain management in Huddersfield is now told to cross the border into South Yorkshire.
And she is concerned that some people, especially the elderly, may decide to suffer in silence rather than attempt the journey on public transport.
"I am in constant pain 24 hours a day," says Andrea, a former sergeant in Queen Alexandra's Royal Army Nursing Corps.
"It's a shooting, pulsing pain, and it lasts all the time. When it's at its worst I can't even stand a sheet touching my skin.
"To get to Barnsley involves three buses and then a walk, which should take five or 10 minutes for a normal person. It would take me half an hour, and I would be in agony.
"To hire a taxi would cost PS25 each way. For weekly sessions over six weeks, that would be PS300. I can't afford it."
She says what was once a relatively brief trip would now swallow up an entire day.
Relatives and friends - all working - would have to take a day off to drive her to Barnsley, hang around, and bring her back.
"My GP practice has been amazing, but their hands are tied. New NHS guidelines say that anyone put forward for pain assessment goes to Longfields Court in Barnsley. It's ridiculous. Someone older is going to just not bother.
"The knock-on is that people could lose their Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) benefits if they don't - or can't - attend."
A CCG spokesperson said: "We can't comment on this particular case without knowing the full details, however appointments are normally available at a range of locations in the Huddersfield area.
"If a patient is unhappy with the location they should contact the service in the first instance to rearrange a more suitable appointment . "A local patient transport service is available to support people who are unable to use their own or public transport, which is normally arranged via a GP practice. This service is subject to eligibility criteria."