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Woman 'trapped on waiting list'

PUBLISHED: 13:24 23 January 2008 | UPDATED: 15:52 02 June 2010

A seriously ill woman waiting for an operation to restore her mobility believes her chances to walk again have been shattered after being trapped in an “endless” waiting list at a major hospital.

A seriously ill woman waiting for an operation to restore her mobility believes her chances to walk again have been shattered after being trapped in an “endless” waiting list at a major hospital.

Fiona Arnold, from Swaffham, has suffered from multiple sclerosis (MS) since she was 20, being a wheelchair-user for the last four years.

Last January, the 48-year-old went to see a consultant at Addenbrooke's Hospital in Cambridge, where she was put on a list for a “minor operation,” which according to specialists would have considerably improved her condition and enabled her to stand up and walk.

But more than a year on, and still waiting to hear from the hospital, Mrs Arnold is convinced any medical intervention would now be futile as her illness is too advanced.

“It is now more than 12 months since I went to Addenbrooke's and there is still no sign of the operation which I was told takes only 20 minutes,” said Mrs Arnold, whose husband Victor, 44, also suffers from MS.

“I am trapped in an endless waiting list and I believe this is all down to money. The operation involves introducing a pump on my tummy which has to be filled with antispasmodic medication every six months.

The operation itself would have cost £9,000 which I offered to pay, but they refused my offer. However, the medication would cost hundreds of thousands of pounds, bearing in mind that I am still young and would need to have the pump filled up every six months for the rest of my life; this is something they probably wouldn't want to do.”

Mrs Arnold who worked for an electricity company until five years ago, said she still wanted to live an active life and make herself useful in the community.

“I would love to leave the wheelchair and walk. I am still young and could still do work. Unfortunately, given my condition, I need constant help throughout the day. My husband also suffers from MS and he walks with a frame. I wish they could still help with an operation.”

An Addenbrooke's spokesman said: “Fiona Arnold should not have had to wait so long. We have apologised to her and we are looking into what caused the delay.

“Her consultant will be inviting her to come in for further tests as quickly as possible. If the results show that pump therapy is still a suitable option, funding

for the treatment has been agreed.”

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