'I'll fly to Germany to avoid NHS wait'

A FURIOUS war veteran will fly to Germany for a hernia operation after being told he faces a wait of up to nine months on the NHS.Geoffrey Horne, 82, from Bures, spoke of his anger at the "decline" in NHS last night, adding: "It makes me wonder why I ever bothered fighting in the war.

A FURIOUS war veteran will fly to Germany for a hernia operation after being told he faces a wait of up to nine months on the NHS.

Geoffrey Horne, 82, from Bures, spoke of his anger at the "decline" in NHS last night, adding: "It makes me wonder why I ever bothered fighting in the war."

Mr Horne had also discovered it could cost him thousands of pounds for a private operation in Britain - more than the £820 he will pay for the same treatment in Europe.

Now the angry former RAF air-gunner, who flew in countless Second World War missions in Europe and North Africa, will become the latest in a wave of British people to travel overseas for surgery.


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He said: "The situation in this country is just hopeless. When I see the way the health service has declined and the way pensioners are treated it does sometimes make me wonder why I ever bothered fighting in the war."

Last month Mr Horne, who will travel to Germany for the operation next week, was diagnosed with a groin hernia by his GP and was told he needed surgery to cure the painful condition.

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He was referred to Colchester General Hospital, and several days later he received a letter from the Essex Rivers Healthcare NHS Trust saying it would be 13 weeks before he could see a specialist. He would then have to wait up to nine months for an operation.

Mr Horne said: "I didn't see the point of waiting 13 weeks to be told what I already knew. I was very concerned because the hernia is painful and restricts what I can do.

"I was also concerned over the implications of having to wait so long for treatment because this kind of hernia can become quite serious if not treated."

After discussing the situation with his wife, Dorothy, Mr Horne opted to pay for private care, but was left astounded when he was informed the surgery would cost between £1,600 and £2,785 in Britain.

He contacted a private health care company in Germany called German Medicine Net on June 10 and later that day the firm arranged for him to have the surgery for £820.

Mr Horne, awarded many campaign medals for his military achievements, included the Atlantic Star, the Northern Africa Star and the Italian Star, will fly to Berlin next Monday for the surgery at the Ambulantes Hospital and will return to Britain the next day.

Mr Horne, who was also mentioned in despatches, said: "I think the waiting times and the costs for medical care in this country is just ridiculous, it makes me sad to see how far Britain has deteriorated.

"The services in Germany are much more approachable and efficient, it is wrong that people in this country are being forced to go abroad for vital health services and it is something the Government must address."

A spokesman for the Essex Rivers Healthcare NHS Trust said: "The trust does conform with the waiting time targets set by the Government.

"Mr Horne may have had to wait 13-weeks to see a doctor who would then have decided what would be the appropriate next step in his treatment. If he had required an operation he could have waited up to nine months for that operation."

A spokesman for the Department of Health said: "The average waiting time for operations at the moment is nine months, we are working all the time to bring times down and we are achieving those goals."

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