Waiting list switch and treatment in another county cuts operation wait by a year for artist Mervyn

Hip replacement needed after a long battle with bladder cancer
“Waits went from four months to eight, and then a year” – patient
Grateful patient donates painting to hospital
“Patient has used the right to transfer to a shorter waiting list” – Hospital Director
9 signs you may need a hip replacement
Artist Mervyn Hewish, 71, from Seaton experienced severe pain in his hip when he returned to walking after months recovering from operations and infections related to bladder cancer. But when the waiting time for a hip replacement went from four months, to eight and then a year, Mervyn felt he could not bear the pain any longer so opted to switch to a shorter waiting list at Shepton Mallet NHS Treatment Centre.
Mervyn was diagnosed with bladder cancer in 2004, and in 2005 he underwent a major operation to remove his bladder and replace it with a bag made from a section of his intestine. The operation lasted for 11 hours, but something went wrong which meant a further five hours in emergency surgery.
For the next 11 years Mervyn was in and out of hospital. All seemed to be fine but in 2016 it was discovered that his replacement bladder was not working as it should and that he was carrying around a litre of urine. He was advised to solve the problem by self-catheterising, but this led to a serious infection.
“The infection just wouldn’t clear up,” said Mervyn. “I was in bed for eight weeks with a raging temperature all the time. It was the one time in my life when I really felt I couldn’t cope with it.”
When Mervyn recovered and started walking again, his hip flared up because his muscles had weakened, and the pain was excruciating. He saw a consultant at his local general hospital in December 2017 and was placed on a priority list for a hip replacement. However, the announcement was made nationally that elective surgery such as hip replacements would be limited so Mervyn rang to ask if this would affect him.
“The first time I rang they said it would be four months. Later I rang again and it was extended to eight – on my final call I was told that it could take a year to have my operation. I asked if I could go somewhere else to get treated faster, but I was told no. I even wrote to the Prime Minister and received a reply from my local MP. At this point I was desperate and in great pain, but one of our neighbours went on line and discovered that I could have the operation at Shepton Mallet NHS Treatment Centre within a month. I was so relieved and I had my first hip replaced there this March.”
Mervyn emailed the hospital explaining his situation and had a phone call back on the same day. “A lady called Jen Lewis rang me and explained how I could get a referral from my doctor so I could have my operation at Shepton Mallet – I was so grateful. In the meantime my MP had intervened with my local hospital and they gave me a new, sooner date, but I had already made up my mind that I would be treated at Shepton Mallet. I had my second hip replacement at Shepton Mallet at the end of July and it has been a great success – I am even back to driving again.”
He added: “The care and attention I received at Shepton Mallet NHS Treatment Centre was excellent. I felt I was in a private hospitals, like I had been for my cancer treatment. I felt that I was in safe, caring hands.”
Mervyn is so grateful for the care he received that he has donated one of his paintings to Shepton Mallet NHS Treatment Centre. He said: “I have always been interested in art. I worked in a colour laboratory in the plastics industry, and when I finished that I trained to be a jeweller. Later in life I studied interior design at A-level and got a grade-A pass, then did a foundation course which got me on to a degree course at Surrey Institute of Art and Design. I now exhibit my work at prestigious venues across the West Country and sell them through Sidmouth Garden Centre amongst others. My paintings can be found in private collections as far afield as Spain, Greece, Australia and the USA, as well as all over the UK.”
Chester Barnes, Hospital Director at Shepton Mallet NHS Treatment Centre, commented: “We are pleased that Mervyn has been able to be treated faster here at Shepton Mallet. He has used a little-known right within the NHS Constitution, which is that if we have been told we must wait for longer than 18 weeks for treatment, we can ask to be transferred to a shorter waiting list at another care provider.”
Shepton Mallet NHS Treatment Centre was the first acute hospital in the country to be rated ‘Outstanding’ by the Care Quality Commission in every individual element of the inspection grading. 
Available treatments include: general surgery (such as hernia repair and gall bladder removal); ear, nose and throat; hip surgery; knee surgery; foot and ankle surgery; shoulder and elbow surgery; hand and wrist surgery; eye surgery (such as cataract replacement); gynaecology; urology; endoscopy; diagnostic imaging and; pain management
More information is available by visiting www.sheptonmallettreatmentcentre.nhs.uk.
Picture caption: Artist Mervyn Hewish, from Seaton in Devon, who chose to have his hips replaced at Shepton Mallet NHS Treatment Centre in Somerset rather than wait a year, with Jen Lewis from the treatment centre and a painting that Mervyn has donated to the hospital in gratitude for his care.
9 signs you may need a hip replacement
More than 50,500 hip replacements took place across England and Wales last year. It is a major, yet effective and common operation and over time becomes the only way to eradicate pain and improve quality of life.
How do you know when you need a hip replacement? Here are 9 signs to look out for and to discuss with your GP:
Persistent or recurring pain in your hip over a period of time, or pain which may also flare up in rainy weather or changes in temperature
Aching in your hip during and after exercise, with progressively limited hip motion or degree of bend in the joint
Increasing immobility such as difficulty getting in and out of chairs, walking or climbing stairs
A ‘grating’ feeling in the hip joint
Stiffness in the hip joint when you get out of bed
Continual pain even with medication and using a cane, and pain that keeps you awake at night
Stiffening up of the joint after sitting for a period of time, such as driving or at the cinema
Increasing pain, discomfort and immobility from a previous hip injury (such as a fractured pelvis)
Related pain elsewhere, such as in the knees or groin
If you have experienced any of these symptoms and are worried, you should discuss them with your GP. Unless your symptoms are very severe and debilitating, your GP is likely to first recommend pain relief and /or physiotherapy before suggesting an operation, but if and when they agree that you need a hip replacement you can ask to be referred to the hospital of your choice.