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Surgery anguish: Paralympic hopeful Ben Clark in battle over treatment
A PARALYMPIC hopeful is battling with health bosses to avoid major surgery as they refuse to fund a less invasive alternative.
Swimmer Ben Clark, 22, from Poole broke his neck after a freak diving accident at Sandbanks in 2010.
Faced with living the rest of his life confined to a wheelchair, Ben was determined to continue with his swimming, setting his hopes on competing in the Paralympic Games at London 2012.
However, last year his hopes were shattered after British Swimming ruled it had not been long enough since he had acquired his injury for him to be classified.
But now, just weeks away from the official classification, Ben faces a bigger battle with Dorset Primary Care Trust over how best to treat ongoing bladder issues.
Despite both his consultant urologist and local GP recommending Ben has a type of Botox injection to relieve the involuntary bladder spasms, the PCT refuse to fund the procedure.
Instead it is suggesting a major operation on his bladder involving a two week stay in hospital and prolonged recovery time for the Rio hopeful.
Ben said: “I just want to be given the chance to try it. To go from medication, which isn’t really working, to major surgery – it’s not right.
“If the injection doesn’t work then of course we will have to think again. But they should at least give me the chance.”
GP, Dr Ben Oxley, said: “I want what is best for my patient, and in my opinion that is the injection.
“The operation is major surgery and at this time, I don’t think that is appropriate for Ben but something does need to be done.
“The medications haven’t worked and the injection, which is used around the world in spinal patients, is the next stage.”
Consultant urologist at Salisbury Hospital, Mr Peter Guy said: “There is absolutely no doubt at all that Ben would be best served with some botulinum toxin into his bladder.
“It is best because it is simplest and because it doesn’t involve a major operation.
“The difficulty that Dorset PCT, and they are not the only ones as Bristol has the same policy, has is that the cutbacks are very deep.
“In some ways I cannot blame them but where I think they have made a mistake is that they have decided not to use it in isolation.”
The injection is approved by various worldwide bodies including most recently, NICE, who have published new recommendations for neurology patients, including the use of the injection.
Mr Guy added: “Whether or not NICE’s recommendations will influence the PCT, I cannot say.
“Generally speaking patients want what is less invasive. It is a very difficult issue and a tough decision-making process.”
- A SPOKESPERSON for the NHS Bournemouth and Poole and NHS Dorset Cluster said: “For reasons of patient confidentiality we are unable to discuss details of individual cases.
“We are the commissioner of quality healthcare for people throughout the county and need to ensure that any treatment is clinically effective.
“The “Policy for Individual Patient treatment” sets out how individual requests for referrals outside of existing pathways are considered, and the commissioning principles on which decisions will be based.
“The full policy is available on the NHS Bournemouth and Poole and NHS Dorset websites.”