At age 55 Stephen Howarth, a manual and robotic welder from Crewkerne, is comparatively young to have had his left hip replaced. Yet problems with osteoarthritis since his teens meant he had to have the operation sooner rather than later.
Now, thanks to hip surgery at Shepton Mallet NHS Treatment Centre, Stephen is fully mobile and back to having fun with his four grandchildren aged between 18 months and 10 years old.
Things came to a head for Stephen about a year ago. He said: “Over the years I had got used to the pain but the situation went downhill quickly over the past 12 months. I was finding it hard to get about, I couldn’t play with my grandchildren as I had done and I was having trouble sleeping.
“At first we thought it was a problem with my knees, yet when someone else said they had had similar symptoms and it turned out to be their hip, I asked my doctor to look into it and an x-ray showed my hip was really bad. There was a reluctance to replace the hip given my age, but when the surgeon examined me and manipulated the joint he said that I should have had surgery years ago and that I had probably had osteoarthritis since my teens.”
Stephen was referred for surgery to Shepton Mallet NHS Treatment Centre: “I was five years old when I last stayed in hospital, and that was to have my tonsils out, and I was really worried about my treatment. I shouldn’t have been – the treatment was amazing in a lovely hospital staffed by really friendly professionals, from the surgeon to the cleaners.
“My surgery took place at about 2pm and my wife planned to visit me after work. She turned up at 6pm to find me sitting up in bed watching TV – neither of us expected me to be so awake. Nothing was too much trouble for the staff, and even when I felt a little sick as a result of the anaesthetic when I first starting getting about on a frame it was ok with everyone to let me continue at my own pace. I appreciated the time that I was given and the fact that, if I didn’t feel up to it, that was alright.”
Stephen also praised the after care: “After I came home I was worried about something so I rang the hospital and I was put straight through to the doctor. She said that if I wanted to come in there and then I could and that they were there for me. I decided that we could probably leave it until the following morning and she provisionally booked an appointment for me first thing. In the end I didn’t need it, but it was reassuring to know that the opportunity was there if I had required it and I was left even more impressed by the level of care.
“I would recommend Shepton Mallet NHS Treatment Centre to anyone who needs an operation. They are so professional and so caring. Once I’ve made a full recovery my operation will give me my life back, and I will be able to chase after a ball with my grandchildren whereas before I couldn’t keep up with them at all.”
Chester Barnes, hospital director at Shepton Mallet NHS Treatment Centre, said: “We are really pleased to have made Stephen’s first hospital stay in 50 years so positive for him, and we really appreciate his kind comments.”
Shepton Mallet NHS Treatment Centre is part of the choice available to patients for NHS care. If a GP or other referring health professional agrees that a patient needs treatment, and it is for a procedure carried out at Shepton Mallet NHS Treatment Centre, then that patient can ask to be referred to the hospital for their care.
Waiting times are comparative short and patients can be guaranteed quality care – Shepton Mallet NHS Treatment Centre is the first hospital in England to have achieve a Care Quality Commission rating of ‘Outstanding’ across all criteria.