Northern Ireland news

Scoliosis patient who flew to Turkey for private treatment due to waiting list scandal inundated with calls from others 'in limbo'

Father-of-four Kevin McIvor was forced to travel to Turkey for a private consultation due to the waiting list crisis in Northern Ireland. Picture by Hugh Russell
Seanín Graham

A 36-year-old man at risk of paralysis who flew to Turkey for private medical treatment due to the waiting list crisis has been inundated with messages from other patients left "in limbo".

In yesterday's Irish News, father-of-four Kevin McIvor from Bellaghy in Co Derry said he was forced to travel to a clinic in Istanbul three weeks ago after being told he faces "years" for surgery on the NHS.

Suffering from a hereditary form of scoliosis, a condition that causes the spine to curve abnormally and can crush the internal organs, the former joiner learned he needs emergency surgery costing up to £55,000 - or else risk his spine severing.

Speaking to The Irish News last night, Mr McIvor said up to 50 people had contacted him who were also in distress as their condition had deteriorated so badly while waiting for urgent medical treatment for scoliosis.

He revealed that donations had started to mount to an online fundraiser for his operation, with hopes they will be hitting £20,000 by next week.

"Quite a lot of people have started to donate today after the story, and my local club did a charity car wash on Sunday that raised £2,700. People are sending money to the house. It's around £1,000 a day that's been raised since we started this three weeks ago," Mr McIvor said.

"So many scoliosis patients have also contacted me today. One guy got in touch to say he had been left in limbo land and doesn't know what's going on. Almost 50 people messaged me to say similar things.

"I just want to move forward with everything now and get the treatment."

Following his return from Turkey - where Mr McIvor said he got "more done in one day than in a lifetime on the NHS" - he sought a private consultation in Belfast with an orthopaedic surgeon.

"I was told I would wait four years for surgery in Northern Ireland - I don't have that time," he said.

The Belfast trust, which is responsible for the regional service for scoliosis surgery, said it was aware of Mr McIvor's case and he is currently under review.

The trust confirmed that 40 adults with scoliosis are currently on the inpatient waiting list - with a 67-week "approximate" wait for surgery in the Royal Victoria Hospital.

Scoliosis patients classed as 'urgent' face delays of almost six months before they are seen by a consultant while the waiting list for a 'routine' referral is now at 96 weeks.

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