Patient story

Graeme's American Dream back on thanks to hernia surgery

Graeme, 71, a retired haematologist, started worrying about his travel plans to the United States because of a suspected hernia. Keen to get on the road, Graeme decided to have his treatment privately.

Graeme Wakerley

Graeme, 71, a retired haematologist who worked for many years in the NHS, said: “I gave myself a hernia carrying heavy stones for a conservatory project. I went to see my GP who said that I had an inguinal hernia and arranged for a scan to see if it was strangulated. This showed that it wasn’t and so because it wasn’t considered dangerous, it meant that I would not be able to get surgery to fix it. The GP explained that unless it’s strangulated, you’re in severe pain or mental anguish, there was no point in applying for funding as I wouldn’t get surgery. Even when you do get on the list meaning it’s serious and you’re in severe pain, there would be a two year wait for hernia surgery.”

Graeme started worrying about his travel plans because there was a risk the hernia would strangulate on holiday and carry a risk of needing emergency treatment.

“My hernia wasn’t strangulated and therefore not considered dangerous…the GP explained there would be a two year wait [on the NHS].”

Graeme Wakerley, hernia patient at Practice Plus Group

A keen traveller, Graeme already had a holiday to Ibiza planned with his son and his family – the first holiday since losing his wife of 50 years. He said: “I had annual travel insurance through my building society account so I called them and explained I had a hernia and asked if I’d be covered for this trip and another to America I was planning to make. They said that as the hernia arose after I’d booked the Ibiza holiday I was covered for that – but I would not be covered for America. There was no way I could travel without declaring it as the costs for emergency surgery in America should the hernia strangulate would be astronomical. I was also worried about my health as a strangulated hernia can lead to sepsis quite quickly and I didn’t want to end up seriously ill in another country, even if the costs were covered.”

He said: “I was stuck really. What was my choice? I was an otherwise fit 70-year-old wanting to enjoy retirement. I realised the cost of travel insurance premiums for the next few years while I lived with this hernia would probably be more than just paying to get better, not to mention the worry of it and the pain. I decided to pay and it was about £2,600 for surgery. It was worth every penny to feel better and to have peace of mind, and I’m off to America this year. I have heard of many other people in similar situations. If I ever need another operation in the future I would by-pass my GP completely.”

“I was stuck; what was my choice? I was an otherwise fit 70-year-old wanting to enjoy retirement…I decided to pay [for my treatment]. It was worth every penny.”

Graeme Wakerley, hernia patient at Practice Plus Group

A spokesperson for Practice Plus Group said: “It’s a story we hear regularly from people who have a health issue they want to be addressed before they go on holiday, but they’re on a waiting list. They’re worried about going away when they’re in limbo, potentially needing to seek medical help a long way from home and not knowing how much it might cost, they’re worried that if they have any sort of accident on holiday that their insurer could relate it to an undeclared pre-existing condition, and most importantly they just want to be pain-free and worry-free so they can enjoy a well-deserved holiday. We see a spike in enquiries for private surgery at this time of year as people start looking ahead to the summer.”

Share