Friday, August 7, 2009

NHS Refuses To Pay For Cortisone & Steriod Shots

Patients forced to live in agony after NHS refuses to pay for painkilling injections
Tens of thousands with chronic back pain will be forced to live in agony after a decision to slash the number of painkilling injections issued on the NHS, doctors have warned.

By Laura Donnelly, Health Correspondent
Published: 7:45AM BST 02 Aug 2009

Cuts to treatments would save the NHS £33 million.
The Government's drug rationing watchdog says "therapeutic" injections of steroids, such as cortisone, which are used to reduce inflammation, should no longer be offered to patients suffering from persistent lower back pain when the cause is not known.

Instead the National Institute of Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) is ordering doctors to offer patients remedies like acupuncture and osteopathy.

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The NHS currently issues more than 60,000 treatments of steroid injections every year. NICE said in its guidance it wants to cut this to just 3,000 treatments a year, a move which would save the NHS £33 million.

But the British Pain Society, which represents specialists in the field, has written to NICE calling for the guidelines to be withdrawn after its members warned that they would lead to many patients having to undergo unnecessary and high-risk spinal surgery.

Dr Christopher Wells, a leading specialist in pain relief medicine and the founder of the NHS' first specialist pain clinic, said it was "entirely unacceptable" that conventional treatments used by thousands of patients would be stopped.

"I don't mind whether some people want to try acupuncture, or osteopathy. What concerns me is that to pay for these treatments, specialist clinics which offer vital services are going to be forced to close, leaving patients in significant pain, with nowhere to go,"

The NICE guidelines admit that evidence was limited for many back pain treatments, including those it recommended. Where scientific proof was lacking, advice was instead taken from its expert group. But specialists are furious that while the group included practitioners of alternative therapies, there was no one with expertise in conventional pain relief medicine to argue against a decision to significantly restrict its use.

Dr Jonathan Richardson, a consultant pain specialist from Bradford Hospitals Trust, is among more than 50 medics who have written to NICE urging the body to reconsider its decision, which was taken in May.

He said: "The consequences of the NICE decision will be devastating for thousands of patients. It will mean more people on opiates, which are addictive, and kill 2,000 a year. It will mean more people having spinal surgery, which is incredibly risky, and has a 50 per cent failure rate."

One in three people are estimated to suffer from lower back pain every year, while one in 15 consult their GP about it. Specialists say therapeutic injections using steroids to reduce inflammation and other injections which can deaden nerve endings, can provide months or even years of respite from pain.

Experts said that if funding was stopped for the injections, many clinics would also struggle to offer other vital services, such as pain management programmes and psychotherapy which is used to manage chronic pain.

Anger among medics has reached such levels that Dr Paul Watson, a physiotherapist who helped draft the guidelines, was last week forced to resign as President of the British Pain Society.

Doctors said he had failed to represent their views when the guidelines were drawn up and refused to support the letter by more than 50 of the group's members which called for the guidelines to be withdrawn.

In response, NICE chairman Professor Sir Michael Rawlins expressed outrage over the vote that forced Dr Watson from his position, describing the actions of the society as "shameful". He accused pain specialists of refusing to accept that there was insufficient scientific evidence to support their practices.

A spokesman for NICE said its guidance did not recommend that injections were stopped for all patients, but only for those who had been in pain for less than a year, where the cause was not known.

Iris Watkins, 80 from Appleton, in Cheshire said her life had been "transformed" by the use of therapeutic injections every two years. The pensioner began to suffer back pain in her 70s. Four years ago, despite physiotherapy treatment and the use of medication, she had reached a stage where she could barely walk.

"It was horrendous, I was spending hours lying on the sofa, or in bed, I couldn't spend a whole evening out. I was referred to a specialist, who decided to give me a set of injections. The difference was tremendous",

Within days, she was able to return to her old life, gardening, caring for her husband Herbert, and enjoying social occasions.

"I just felt fabulous – almost immediately, there was not a twinge. I only had an injection every two years, but it really has transformed my life; if I couldn't have them I would be in despair".

This is a glimpse into how our health care will be if Obama's bill passes. Everything will be rationed or deemed not cost effective to save money . In Chicago we have all kinds of free health care for the poor. I'm sick of the LIBS crying that poor or unisured people don't have access to health care :

A study shows that 46.6 millions Americans do not have health insurance and out of these 1.6 millions reside in and near Chicago area. For those under privileged and those who are not covered under any insurance programs, many free health care clinics are there in the city, many of them are run by non profit organizations. Here is the list of few of those free clinics in Chicago-


Anonymous said...

This will be us if Obama's health care take over happens.

John M. Wills said...

We constantly hear these horror stories from Canadians and Brits, yet the kool-aid drinkers stand steadfast in support of this empty suit we call our President. It's disgusting; it's worse than I ever dreamed it would be.

Anonymous said...

If we get this, I will be one of those people. If I didn't get my shots in my back, I wouldn't be able to walk.

I pray this health care bill gets a VETO. Keep crossing your fingers, for me and millions of others like me.

Mick said...

I'm so glad I don't live in the US.

SOUL: said...

well, i may be wrong-- i am often wrong. but i think i heard that this is on the table to being passed. for that i am angry and sad. because i too will now be one of those that will suffer for it. i don't know why they didn't just leave everything alone.
i for one , as a taxpayer, would have much rather paid higher taxes, if need be, for welfare- or medicaid, or whatever to keep my own insurance going the way it is. rather than get in line and lose what i have.
now, i too will most likely lose what it took me over ten years to get... the ability to walk without pain.. and the ability to finally get pain meds without being treated like an addict.
for years doctors kept these steroid injections to themselves-- as if it were some sort of secret-- until i got better insurance. now that i have them, they are gold-- only to be taken away??
it's just not right. surely there is another way, a better way?
politics. pahleeze.
this country is only getting worse.
obama should be making an example-- he should be making "history". in a positive way-- as our first black -- sorry 'african american' president.
he has done nothing .. not one thing yet-- to make me proud of him. i can't hardly even get his name right half the time. (i'm white btw). if that matters. even so. it seems all he does is go on vacation, and apologize.
'we' made a mistake puttin him in the white house. well, the majority vote did.

sorry for my rant in your box.

do you know if the veteran hospitals will be affected by this ? probably huh?

anyhow-- i hope you have a great day-