Kent woman worried she could face long wait for treatment because of NHS delays caused by Covid

Helen Cornford says she is living in constant pain and needs an operation on her back

A young woman from Kent has told ITV Meridian she's worried she could have to wait years for surgery on her back.

21-year-old Helen Cornford is unable to walk, requires morphine and is losing feeling in her legs.

But she says she was told she could have to wait for years to have an operation on her back because of the Covid backlog. 

Helen Cornford says she was told on the phone she could have to wait for years for an operation.

Helen has told ITV Meridian her family was informed on the phone that she could be waiting for years for the treatment she needs.

For the last two years Helen's condition has deteriorated and her partner says she's getting worse every day.

  • Helen Cornford

There's been mounting pressure on the Government over the ongoing delays to NHS medical treatment due to the pandemic.

The charity the Health Foundation is estimating it will cost up to £16.8 billion over the remainder of this parliament, to clear the backlog and return to the 18-week waiting time standard.

The NHS waiting list in England the longest it has been since records began, the latest figures have shown, but the health secretary has warned it's likely to rise even further.

Sajid Javid said: "We estimate there's probably some seven million people that ordinarily would have come forward to the NHS that stayed away, understandably, during the height of the pandemic."

On Monday, the government announced the NHS is to be given an extra £5.4 billion budget boost over the next six months - half the amount health service bodies said is needed to respond to Covid-19 and tackle the backlog caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Helen Cornford says she is unable to walk properly because a back problem

But Helen Cornford says she is worried the delays mean she will have to live constant pain for years.

She says she now faces living in her parents' front room, relying on morphine to ease her pain. 

  • Helen Cornford

Helen's family say they have been told to consider private care, which they can't afford. Her brother is now fundraising to pay for a private operation.

Helen has praised the staff at East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust, and says the care she has received has been outstanding.

In a statement, East Kent Hospitals NHS Trust said it is '...working hard to treat patients as soon as possible' and 'understands the impact of waiting for treatment'.

It added that a 'new surgical centre at Kent and Canterbury Hospital will help more people to be seen as quickly as possible'.

Helen's concerns come as the Prime Minister has today announced the Government will begin the “biggest catch up programme” in the health service’s history. In the Commons Boris Johnson told MPs: “Today we are beginning the biggest catch up programme in NHS history, capping the Covid backlogs by increasing hospital capacity to 110% and enabling 9 million more appointments, scans and operations.

“As a result, while waiting lists will get worse before they get better, the NHS will aim to be treating around 30% more elective patients by 2024-2025 than before Covid. And we will also fix the long-term problems of health and social care that the party opposite certainly failed to tackle.”

Boris Johnson will hold a press conference this afternoon alongside Rishi Sunak and Sajid Javid Credit: PA

Last week, a joint report from NHS Providers and the NHS Confederation said the health service budget must increase by around £10 billion next year and claimed anything less could see trusts forced to cut services.