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Teenager's family pay £3,000 for leg surgery, after NHS refused treatement
A HAMPSHIRE teenager has been denied treatment for serious varicose veins on the NHS – a decision an expert has branded “outrageous”.
Despite her GP applying for funding for treatment three times, Laura, from Hill Park Road, was turned down by her Primary Care Trust.
With nowhere left to turn, her family and friends were forced to club together to pay more than £3,000 for private treatment – something that a leading vascular surgeon has said should not have been necessary.
Laura said: “The pain started two or three years ago.
“It was more of an aching pain – sometimes my leg would go dead and just totally give up. The varicose eczema started getting worse earlier this year.
“It was driving me mad; it was painful and weepy. I couldn’t see a way forward without them being treated.”
After seeing a private vascular surgeon, Laura had to have two veins removed, numerous perforations repaired, valves fixed at the top of her leg and other veins strengthened with lasers.
She says the operation has changed her life – and should have been paid for on the NHS.
NHS Hampshire has said it cannot comment on individual cases, but that it only supports the treatment of varicose veins when there is “ulceration and/or bleeding”.
Medical director Dr Stuart Ward said: “This position arose following a review of the evidence which concluded that there is insufficient evidence that varicose vein treatment carries long-term benefit or effectiveness other than when there has been bleeding or ulceration.
“There are also high rates of recurrence of the veins or return of symptoms.
“We are therefore only able to support requests for treatment outside these criteria in exceptional circumstances."
But Ian Franklin, who is chairman of the charity the Circulation Foundation and a leading specialist in vascular and endovascular surgery, said: “I think it’s outrageous.
“The PCT have said that they only treat in exceptional circumstances – well, this is a 16-year-old with blistering.
“By the time you have got skin changes like that, you should be referred.
“She should have qualified for treatment and I think she’s been unfairly treated.”