A SELSEY woman with a rare condition which sees her joints dislocate daily says she relies on the accident and emergency services in Chichester which are currently under threat.
Katherine Tomlinson, 30, was born with Hypermobile Ehlers Danlos Syndrome (EDS), a painful condition which means her joints have a wider movement than usual.
Katherine also suffers from endometriosis, a gynaecological problem which causes internal bleeding, and her long-term health issues mean she has been a frequent visitors to St Richard’s Hospital in Chichester.
“Both conditions cause a lot of pain/fatigue and I get acute flares of pain which is when I end up in A&E,” Katherine told us in an email entitled ‘Chichester A&E and why it’s invaluable to me’.
“Whether it’s a dislocated kneecap – which happens every couple of weeks – or the crippling pain of my monthly cycles, A&E is sometimes my only option as it’s the only place I can get pain medication strong enough.
“It’s also the first place the GP sends me if one of my joints comes out and won’t go back in place. I get dislocations daily but they normally go back in either by themselves or with some gentle self-manipulation.
“A couple of times I’ve even needed an ambulance.”
Katherine is one of thousands of local people who have joined our SOS A&E campaign.
Launched last month, we are calling for a written guarantee that accident and emergency services won’t be downgraded by a £235m contract for all non-emergency orthopaedic services being handed to Bupa CSH Ltd.
Western Sussex Hospital Trust, which runs St Richard’s and Worthing hospitals, has said losing such a lucrative contract will make sustaining its two accident and emergency units, which operate at a loss, at ‘serious risk’.
Coastal West Sussex Clinical Commissioning Group, the decision-makers who handed Bupa the MSK deal, insists trauma services will not be affected and the decision came from a need for more ‘joined-up services’.
Katherine is concerned that if the accident and emergency unit was to close at St Richard’s, as the hospital trust has warned, she will double her distance to services which are vital to her.
She said: “The A&E in Chichester have been dealing with my problems for many years as I was born in St Richard’s maternity unit so the staff there know a lot about my conditions.
“Ehlers Danlos is a rare genetic condition which many doctors/nurses have never even heard of. Being able to go to the same A&E and see the same doctors/physios is a great help as I don’t have to tell them about EDS while in pain.”