MLA challenges Health Trust over surgery delay

Megan Fleming and her mum, Karen.  Right: an X-ray of Megan's spine.
Megan Fleming and her mum, Karen. Right: an X-ray of Megan's spine.

East Antrim MLA John Stewart has expressed his disappointment at the initial response from the Belfast Health Trust to representations he made on behalf of Carrick girl Megan Fleming, who faces a year-long wait for a spinal operation.

Megan, 14, suffers from scoliosis which causes a sideways curve of the spine.

UUP MLA John Stewart.

UUP MLA John Stewart.

With her condition having worsened significantly in the past nine months, Megan’s family were told that it could be up to a year before she can have surgery.

Megan’s mum, Karen, blamed the current Stormont deadlock as the reason for the delay.

Ulster Unionist MLA John Stewart said: “In the representations I made to the Chief Executive of the Belfast Health Trust and the Permanent Secretary of the Department of Health, I asked specific questions about Megan Fleming’s case.

“For example, was the lack of a local Health Minister and Executive at Stormont the reason for authorization being withheld to transfer Megan to get treated in another UK NHS Trust, through the extra contractual referral scheme (ECR)?

“Unfortunately in the sympathetically worded response to my representations, the Belfast Trust has failed to address the budgetary and clinical needs issues that I have raised.

“They have told me: ‘Belfast Trust is very sorry that any patient should have to wait for treatment; however, demand for orthopaedic services outstrips our current capacity. Regrettably the current waiting time for this type of procedure is approximately one year.’

“Megan and her mum Karen need a lot more than tea and sympathy at this stage. This is a case of urgent clinical need which demands clarity and decisions to be made by those in authority in the local NHS.

“This would be a lot simpler if we had a local Minister. However, that should not be used as an excuse to withhold urgent medical treatment for any of our citizens. I await the Health Permanent Secretary’s response with keen interest on behalf of Karen and Megan.”