Girl, five, from Northampton whose ear drum almost burst denied op under cost-cutting policy

Charley Pickering

Charley Pickering

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A five-year-old girl from Northampton whose ear drum almost burst has been denied surgery by the NHS under a cost-cutting policy.

Charley Pickering from Kingsthorpe has a build-up of fluid in her ear, sometimes called ‘glue ear’- that is so severe that last winter paramedics were called when it was feared her ear drum would rupture.

In May, her GP referred her to the hospital for an operation to have grommets inserted and mum Lisa received a hospital letter confirming a date.

But three months later she was sent a letter from NHS Nene saying funding had now been withdrawn after her case was considered by a panel under the ‘prior approval’ initiative.

Mrs Pickering said: “I can’t understand how one part of the NHS, and a GP, can say surgery is essential and another say its not important at all.

“The alternative is antibiotics but that only masks the problem and ends up costing far more over the years.”

She added: “When the ambulance was called they said she was on the verge of a seizure because of the fluid build-up. I’m dreading this winter.”

The prior approval scheme was introduced in Northamptonshire in 2012, listing a range of conditions and illnesses - such as hip and knee replacements and cataract surgery - where stricter criteria must be met before a procedure or treatment would be carried out.

It can mean that doctors are not able to offer them a certain treatment because it would not be funded by the local NHS.

However, it is possible they can be offered alternative treatment within the GP practice or the community.

A spokeswoman for NHS Nene said: “This policy is the best way to ensure that local NHS funds are spent on the things that will bring greatest benefit to local people in a way that is affordable and fair.”

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