A woman who has dedicated her professional life to ensuring brides feel at their most beautiful on their big day, is back conducting ceremonies after her request for an operation was rejected by the local NHS trust.
Dianne Fox, from Doncaster, said: “I was rejected for hip surgery because of my weight, even though I weighed the same as when I had my left hip and my right knee replaced.
“I was in agony. I could not sleep and, when I did drift off, the pain would wake me up as I turned. I struggled to get in and out of my car and, as I travel across the north visiting shops and bridal fairs, I really needed to be able to keep on the move.”
Dianne had her first hip replaced at Barlborough NHS Treatment Centre two and a half years ago. “They were wonderful, and it gave me a new lease of life. I had just sold the wedding and prom dress shop I had run for 15 years. I had been invited to work for a bridal and eveningwear dress supplier dress, ensuring they were in the best shops and bridal trade fairs throughout the north of England and, for that, I had to be at my best.
“I love working with beautiful dresses and fabrics and I am a real people person, so I love talking to the retailers.”
After her first hip surgery, her pain disappeared and, after her right knee was replaced, a year later at the treatment centre, she said she felt wonderful. She said: “I felt wonderful and fit for anything, including the 1,200 miles I can drive each week.”
Dianne’s love of weddings had also seen her become a qualified celebrant of non-religious weddings, not only writing bespoke vows but also tailoring ceremonies for couples in the area. “It seemed to be a natural progression,” she said, “and, after selling my business, I had a bit more time to take on an activity that lets me share in such happy occasions.”
Unfortunately, as time went on, osteoarthritis took its toll on her right hip. “My life became impossible. I couldn’t do the things I loved and I was in constant pain. I asked to be sent to Barlborough NHS Treatment Centre again, as I had been delighted with the results of my last operations and the treatment I received.
“Sadly, they had to tell me that my local NHS Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) would not pay for the surgery, because my Body Mass Index (BMI) was just over 35, despite my efforts to get it below.”
Dianne’s consultant at the centre said she could go away and try and lose more weight. However, this would mean she would need to start back at the beginning of the process, once she had reduced her BMI. She said: “I couldn’t do it. The pain was so bad that the thought of trying to carry on for months and months was impossible.”
Dianne’s consultant told her that Care UK offers a unique, self-pay system that is, on average, 20 per cent cheaper than most other independent providers. Dianne said: “I was delighted. The cost was almost half that I was quoted from an NHS hospital that has a private ward.
“It allowed me to proceed with the operation and, within six weeks of the surgery, you would not have known I had had surgery: I was pain free and walking with ease. At my six-week follow-up, the physiotherapist laughed as he saw me walking towards him, saying it was clear there was nothing wrong with me. He was right, I was signed off with a clean bill of health.”
Dianne was able to get back to the job she loves and her role as a celebrant in time for the busiest period of the year.
Hospital director Steve Booker said: “I am delighted that Dianne is back doing the things she loves. Care UK started its economic self-pay service to help people like her, who may not have private medical insurance, and who cannot continue in pain, because they have family commitments that require them to be healthy and mobile, they have businesses to run or because the pain is just too much.
“In some areas, National Health Service treatment is limited if a person has a BMI above a set figure. However, if like Dianne, the patient is otherwise fit and healthy, we can operate and give the same support that we would give our NHS patients.”
Dianne said: “This was my third operation at the centre and I was treated no differently each time, whether I was NHS or private. Everyone was kind, professional and efficient and the centre was spotless.
“I first went there as an NHS patient because of the short waiting list and I would recommend that anyone who needs treatment to get back on with their lives, should look at the centre.”