AN ELDERLY carer who is in “excruciating pain” has been given a lifeline after waiting on tenterhooks for a procedure available in England but not yet offered in North Wales.

Irene Brown - who cares for her husband John, both 76, full time at their Rhuddlan home - has been waiting since May for treatment for leaking veins in her left leg, due to a lack of suitable keyhole intervention equipment.

However, following a successful evaluation by the North Wales Vascular Network, a solution for the patient - who claims she cannot undergo currently available treatments under general anaesthetic due to complications arising from ill health - could soon be available.

The news comes after the case was taken up by Vale of Clwyd AM Ann Jones, who contacted chairman of Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board (BCUHB) Mark Polin in September on behalf of Mrs Brown.

A spokesperson for BCUHB said: “We would like to apologise to Mrs Brown for any pain and distress she is experiencing as a result of her condition.

“We have recently approved a proposal to introduce keyhole intervention surgery, a minimally invasive procedure for the treatment of varicose veins.

“Once we have introduced this new procedure it will be offered to all patients who meet the clinical criteria for it.”

The introduction of keyhole intervention surgery, which uses using laser fibres to cauterise the veins, would bring BCUHB hospitals into line with those across the border, such as Sheffield’s Northern General, which has offered the procedure on the NHS for serious vascular issues since 2004.

It is not known when the treatment will become available for Mrs Brown.The Journal has approached BCUHB for response. This was not received prior to the paper going to press.

Mrs Brown said: “It doesn’t give me much peace of mind to know they might get it at some point, I was told in September that they would soon be getting the equipment, meanwhile my life is horrendous and I’m still

“You get used to the health board making promises, and you get to the point where you don’t trust them any more.

“When is the treatment going to be able to help me? Without a date I don’t see why I have to wait in excruciating pain when I can just be referred to a hospital that can help me now.

In addition to living with leaking vein valves, Mrs Brown has had an open leg ulcer grow from the size of a finger nail to cover her inside ankle since November 2017.

She is currently being prescribed a course of antibiotics by her GP at Pen y Bont surgery for an infection in her leg, which has possibly been caused by the ulcer.

The patient was able to receive an appointment with a consultant vascular surgeon in September, after being forced to sit in Glan Clwyd Hospital’s Acute Medical Unit without seeing a doctor for more than six hours in May.

As a result, Mrs Brown was supposed to receive a referral to the health board’s Pain Team to help manage her discomfort, as well as an anaesthetic assessment to discuss her suitability for general - she claims she is yet to hear receive a date for either appointment. She has received an angiogram to assess a further arterial disease complication and a deep vein thrombosis scan.

Mrs Brown added: “I can’t sleep in a bed anymore, because the pain is unbearable if I raise my leg – which I’m supposed to do to help my arteries – so I’ve been forced to sleep in a chair for months.

“I can’t even stand to make a cup of tea, the pain is so intense and standing for more than two minutes is agony.

“I went to see the nurse at my GP surgery on Tuesday, November 6 after going to Glan Clwyd with fluid leaking out of my leg, and she was absolutely horrified. She thought I was going to die and couldn’t believe I was being left like this.”

While Mrs Brown awaits a date, she currently is left to care for her husband, who lives with pulmonary hypertension for which the couple moved from Altrincham to Rhuddlan four years ago to help manage.

Mrs Brown said: “I am virtually screaming some days and my poor husband is being worn out - I’m supposed to be his carer. We aren’t coping very well.

“My children tell me that if I still lived in England the problem would have been sorted by now.

“I’m thinking now I’ll have to go private to get some peace, which means I’ll have to borrow money – which I’ve never had to do before.

“I can’t put mine and my husband’s lives at risk while the health board sorts this out when they could just give me a referral to a hospital that can help.”