Woman with arthritis sells home to pay for hip surgery in Lithuania after two-year NHS wait

  • ITV News Meridian's Ciaran Fitzpatrick spoke to Karen following her surgery

A woman with arthritis, who waited more than two years for a hip replacement on the NHS, says she was left "heartbroken" after selling her home to pay for private surgery abroad.

Karen Rogers began struggling with everyday tasks, including putting her shoes on and taking her dogs for a walk, due to the pain.

She decided to move in with her partner in Carterton in Oxfordshire, so he could help care for her.

Karen said: "My life came to a standstill. I couldn’t even put my own shoes and socks on. I couldn’t even get dressed on my own. I couldn’t look after my dogs.

"I had no choice. I had to sell up, move out. Fortunately I met Ian and moved here and he cared for me before my surgery and obviously through my rehabilitation.

"The pain that I have gone through. I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy.

"Sometimes you have to make big decisions. Decisions you don’t want to make but you feel you have no choice.

"I got to the stage at Christmas where I knew I had no choice."

Karen Rogers began struggling with every day tasks. Credit: Karen Rogers

In the UK, Karen was expecting to pay around £20,000 for one hip.

After exhausting all channels in the UK, Karen looked abroad to Lithuania.

With good reviews, she spoke to former patients and that made up her mind.

Ian Weston, Karen's partner, said: "There’s anticipation because you’re going to a foreign country you don’t know. Karen did her research, got all the feedback she needed to."

Within just a few weeks she was in a clinic there which charged £8,500, which included a nine-day stay in a medical spa.

Her surgery went well, but medical bosses in the UK are urging anyone thinking of going abroad to do their research.

Tim Mitchell, President, Royal College of Surgeons, said: "There are some very good providers of care in other countries. We do hear stories of less than satisfactory outcomes when they’ve had their surgeries elsewhere.

"It’s good to bear in mind what are the follow up arrangements and what are the arrangements if there are problems following surgery."

Karen travelled to Lithuania for surgery. Credit: Karen Rogers

Kettering General Hospital, where Karen was due to be treated, says it is trying to cut waiting times for patients impacted by pressure and doctors strikes.

However, Karen says it is unacceptable and says she had no choice but to pay to go private.

Debbie Needham, Chief Executive, Kettering General Hospital, said: "We are focused on reducing waiting times for treatment and our teams continue to work extremely hard, including carrying out additional activity at weekends, to ensure our patients are seen in a timely manner.

"We understand the impact long waits for surgery can have on our patient's lives and apologise to anyone awaiting treatment who has had to have their planned care rearranged due to either operational pressures or industrial action.

"There continues to be high demand for our services, especially for urgent and emergency care, and we will continue to try and minimise the impact unplanned care and industrial action has on patients waiting for a planned appointments or surgery."

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: "We continue to make progress in reducing the overall NHS waiting list, which has fallen by almost 200,000 over the past five months.

"We’re also delivering record diagnostic tests, record levels of investment and embracing the latest technology across the NHS to deliver care to people when and where they need it."

Karen does not blame doctors for what has happened but says the system is broken if more people like her are forced to travel thousands of miles for a procedure they could have around the corner.

Karen said: "The sad thing is because I’ve waited so long for my right hip to be operated on, my left hip has deteriorated to the point where it is as bad as what the right was.

"So I’m going back to Lithuania in August to have the second one done."

Want a quick and expert briefing on the biggest news stories? Listen to our latest podcasts to find out What You Need To Know…