Car crash victim refused NHS operation despite battling back from five per cent chance of survival

Duncan Buckley with wife Lisa-Marie Buckley
Duncan Buckley with wife Lisa-Marie Buckley

A car crash victim who needed 22 operations after being given just a five per cent chance of survival has been told by the NHS they won’t pay for his
final procedure –  because his case is not ‘exceptional’.

Duncan Buckey, 35, fractured his skull, shattered his knee cap and broke his sternum when his MG was hit head-on by a van on the B4379 near Shifnal, Shrops., on April 12, 2011.

The former web tutor, who hasn’t been able to work since the accident and is in constant pain, was left in a coma for six weeks and had to stay in hospital for a year.

Doctors gave Duncan a five per cent chance of survival but he made a miracle recovery after undergoing a gruelling 22 operations in the last 21 months.

Now, he needs a 23rd and final operation to fix his left leg -which is one-and-a-half inches longer –  to allow him to walk unaided.

But just weeks before he was due to go under the knife, Duncan was stunned when the NHS refused to fund his operation – claiming it was ‘not routine’.

Duncan, who lives in Swynnerton Staffs., said: “The imbalance in my legs is now causing me increasing pain.

“This is the final step of getting my life back together and it is not for cosmetic reasons.

“I’ve survived so much and to leave me is unfair. My health has taken second place to resource priorities and targets.

 Duncan recovering in hospital when his weight dropped
Duncan recovering in hospital when his weight dropped

“It has been causing me a great deal of stress.

“I know I’ll never be able to do the physical activities I used to do, but the final operation would enable me to regain a portion of that back.”

His wife Lisa-Marie, 41, added: “We can’t complete this journey until he’s had this operation.

“To stop now is cruel. We were in tears when we found out.”

The operation involves inserting a £3,000 ISKD nail in Duncan’s left leg to correct an inch-and-a-half difference in length.

But a primary care trust (PCT) said the procedure is not routinely commissioned and has refused funding.

In a letter to Duncan, consultant trauma and orthopaedic surgeon Professor Peter Thomas told him: “The use of the ISKD nail would significantly reduce the amount of distress and pain that you would have to suffer, and would significantly reduce the risks of technical failure or infection.

The MG car Duncan was in when the accident happened
The MG car Duncan was in when the accident happened

“I can only suggest that you, and I, continue to put pressure on the PCT.”

Duncan has now put in an official complaint with the Patient Advice and Liaison Service and written to Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt in a last-ditch bid to secure funding.

Tamsin Carr, spokeswoman for the Staffordshire Cluster of PCTs said: “The treatment is not routinely commissioned for patients in South Staffordshire.

“We believe there is an alternative treatment available but that would have to be confirmed by the University Hospital of North Staffordshire.”


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